Meat prices slow to rise

Prices for milk, cheese and eggs in Europe have shown a sharp increase over the last year, while those for meat have gone up less than half as fast, according to a report just published.

The report examines changes to the 12-month rolling average rate of inflation for selected food groups in the 27 EU member states, comparing the rate in February 2008 with the same month of 2007.

The results of the analysis, by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Meat Services, showed prices of milk, cheese and eggs rose by almost 7% in the 12 months ending February 2008, compared with only 1% during the 12-month period before that.

Prices of bread and cereal-based foods also recorded much larger price rises than a year earlier, influenced by tightening global supplies of grain. In contrast, meat and fish prices rose by only 3% over the 12 months to February this year, up from 2% in the previous 12 months.

Eastern European countries have suffered the most from food price rises over the last year, with Bulgaria and Latvia recording food inflation at around 16% in February, compared with an EU-27 average of 4%.

The edition also includes a review of changes in household expenditure over the last 50 years, to mark half a century of the Expenditure and Food Survey.

AHDB Market Analyst Tracey Richardson said: "Disposable incomes in some Eastern European countries rose during the year, giving consumers increased purchasing power and this has led to increased demand. But reduced grain yields cannot be discounted as an influence."

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