Research shows the cost of food could rise by up to 10% if the price of oil doubles, as it is threatening to do.
A study conducted for the Sustainable Development Commission by ADAS, Cranfield University and Queens University, Belfast looked at the implications of the price of oil increasing from $50 a barrel to $100.
It was commissioned when prices were $53 a barrel. This week they were about $90.
In a report on the research, SDC commissioner Tim Lang said figures suggested food prices would rise between 5% and 10% when oil reached $100 a barrel. "Such rises might seem comparatively small," he said. "But for a food culture built on assumed access to ever-cheaper food, even slight reversals can have profound effects."
The study found retailers would be least affected by any increases, as they could push extra costs downwards to processors or upwards to consumers.