FRUIT AND VEG PRICES UP 23% screamed the headline in the Daily Express. I didn't know whether I was more surprised by the story itself or the fact that grapes, cherry tomatoes and strawberries had replaced Princess Diana and Madeleine McCann as the headline of choice for this most predictable of newspapers. And then, as I turned the page, I discovered the source of this story was... The Grocer. I racked my brain as to where this story might have appeared. I certainly didn't recall a statistic like that screamed all over our mag. And then it hit me. The Express was comparing the price of summer soft fruits in July, as reported in a story in last week's fresh produce section, with the price in November. This, as they say, is like comparing apples with pears. Although, as we reported, the price of fruit and veg is higher than it has been for almost three years, and 14.5% more expensive than it was two years ago, statistics need to be handled with extreme care as we consider the impact of these scary headlines on interest rates and the economy as a whole. As Tesco's CFO Andrew Higginson pointed out this week, overall food inflation is running at little more than 1%. This is partly down to the power of the multiples in keeping retail prices down. Even high-profile, commodity-hit items such as Kingsmill bread are not averse to deflationary pressure, up 6.5% since 2006 versus 12.1% for the overall bread category - that after it was finally able to put through an 8p price hike two weeks ago. But prices in some lines have actually fallen: The Grocer's GPI of 100 core items shows deflation of 0.4% since last November, and 0.9% at Tesco. If you want juicy stories, Mr Hill, stick with Madeleine and Diana.