Fresh produce prices have returned to the same high levels that were reached in June when supply fears over flooding resulted in rocketing shelf prices. The Grocer's regular price survey of a basket of typical fruit and veg has risen steadily since July and is now just 32p off the £13.28 recorded on 4 June. Some of the increases can be accounted for by seasonal switchovers of supply between countries, but the basket is still 6.4% more expensive than last year and 6.8% higher than two years ago.
Strawberries accounted for the biggest increase - up 58p compared with five weeks ago - as domestic supply began to give way to fruit from the Netherlands and Spain. The fruit is now 35% more expensive than last year. White seedless grapes have risen by 51p as Brazilian fruit replaced Greek supplies, but they are now 40% more expensive than last year.
However, there were also price cuts, most notably on banans, which Asda is once again heavily discounting. It cut the price from 85p/kg to 68p - close to the 59p/kg level the market languished at through the summer.
The retailer said it was part of its campaign to cut the cost of Christmas. Asda is the only retailer to source its bananas from Cameroon. The other three major retailers are sourcing their fruit from Costa Rica and Columbia.
Cheapest loose apples dropped 18p in price as the British season got under way. Cherry tomatoes fell 12p and new potatoes by 8p. All three are either cheaper or identical in price to last year.