Figures published in The Grocer this week show for the first time the true extent of food and drink price increases in the wake of soaring raw material c0sts.

Though the rises have not been universal, certain categories and retailers have implemented massive price rises, particularly on bread and dairy products, which have increased in price by up to 28%, according to The Grocer 33 this week.

Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco were selling 284ml of fresh double cream for 59p this time last year, but this has gone up by 20% at Tesco to 71p, 10% at Sainsbury's to 65p and 27% to 75p at Asda.

In-store bakery loaves were on sale at Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's for 73p this time last year. But this week, the same loaves were retailing for 84p at Asda, 15% up, while at Sainsbury's and Tesco's they were even pricier at 94p, up 28%.

Fresh whole milk was selling for 33p across Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco last year.

Over the past year, Asda and Tesco have both increased the price by 7p - or 21% - while Morrisons and Sainsbury's have upped theirs by 2p over the same period.

There has also been a big price hike on a four-pint bottle of semi-skimmed milk, with Asda and Tesco both increasing their price by more than 20% from £1.11 to £1.34. Morrisons and Sainsbury's have both increased the price of their milk by 4p since last year.

Tesco's cheapest own-label Cheddar was £4.84 per kilo this time last year but has now rocketed by 12% to £5.44. However, Asda and Sainsbury's reduced the prices of their cheese by 12p and 99p respectively.

Meat prices have yet to be affected by the inflation.

Although there have been some steep price rises in particular categories and on individual products, the average price of a basket of groceries has risen year-on-year by just 0.84% from £51.94 to £52.38.

While at 5%, Tesco's basket price has risen most sharply, the price of Sainsbury's basket of products has gone up by just 1.9%, Asda's by 1.4% and Waitrose's by 0.97%.

Morrisons' and Somerfield's totals are less than last year's, although Morrisons informed us on Thursday - after our survey was conducted - that it had increased some prices to match the other retailers.

The latest price hikes come in the wake of a huge increase in the cost of wheat, which has doubled in the past year. Wheat, besides being used as an ingredient in bread, is also used in animal feed, hence the impact on dairy prices.

Despite the rises, Waitrose MD Mark Price this week rubbished suggestions that the era of cheap food was over. As price rises kicked in, major supermarket chains would simply lower the quality of food to keep prices down, he said.

"There are three price-focused players in market, and they are just going to lower the spec of their products," he told The Grocer.

"There will be less chicken in the tandoori, fewer prawns in the salad and less good quality meat in the cottage pies." Waitrose would remain a quality-focused retailer, he claimed.

Price was speaking as Waitrose revealed like-for-like sales up 3.2%, with total sales up 7.1% to £1.9bn, for the six months to 28 July.

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