Soaring costs show no sign of slowing Further increases in the price of fruit and veg lend weight to claims that Christmas 2007 will be the most expensive ever. In the final fresh produce survey of the year, the price of our basket of staple items reached its highest level for almost three years, and is now 23% more expensive than it was in July. "There is a lot of talk about food price inflation across all the categories, and fruit and veg is no exception," said the NFU's chief horticultural adviser Phil Hudson. "Oil, electricity and gas prices as well as labour costs are going up, some crops have been affected by weather conditions, and the 5-a-day message is getting through and driving demand for fresh produce. "There is nothing to suggest that the effect of any of these influences is going to end, but prices have been historically low so food price inflation is welcome as long as growers reap the reward." The basket is now 14.5% more expensive than it was two years ago, with strawberries 49.1% more expensive than at this time last year. White seedless grapes continued to rise sharply, after a big increase in October, and industry sources predicted further supply problems. Only a reduction in banana prices as retailers followed Asda's lead and brought them down to 68p/kg from 85p, along with special offers on pears, softened the blow.