The annual Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index was published today and it – shows that the price of a number of items making up a cooked breakfast actually fell in the year to the end of February, using the UK Retail Price Index (RPI).
Bacon was the biggest faller, with a price drop of 5.1 percent in the 12-months. The price of tea fell by 3.9 percent, and the cost of eggs was down 2.5 percent.
A number of other items rose at rates well below the headline inflation rate, including sausages (1.6 percent), and tomatoes (1.4 percent).
Overall, the Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index – the average inflation rate of the items included – rose at a very modest 0.9 percent in the past year, its lowest rate of inflation since 2016. The annual rate of inflation for the Ulster Fry Index was 2.8 percent in March 2017 and 4.3 percent in March 2018.
Margarine (a whopping 21.7 percent) and butter (6.9 percent) saw the biggest rises in the last year. Taking them out of the equation though leads to an annual fall in the overall Ulster Fry Index of 0.8 percent.
Looking at changes over time, despite the rise in the past 12 months, the Ulster Fry Index is still 8.1 percent lower than it was five years ago. Though it is 25 percent higher than 10 years ago. And the Ulster Fry Index up 52 percent since the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement was signed over 20 years ago.
Since the EU-Referendum in June 2016, the Ulster Fry Index has increased by 6.8 percent.
Food makes up a significant proportion of household spending. ‘Food and drink’ is also a key sector of the Northern Ireland economy. So, understanding how the price of food items is changing gives us some insight into both the current state of consumer finances, and also some of the challenges facing the agri-food industry.
There are a wide range of alternative indices around the world – from the Big Mac Index to the Cappuccino Index – which are intended to explain economic terms in a straightforward way and to shed new light on important economic issues. Ours is the Ulster Fry Index, and it hopefully gives the man or woman on the street a clearer idea of why their household finances currently are the way they are.