Wholesale foodservice price inflation has climbed to 6% in March thanks to a dramatic spike in the price of fish, up nearly 20% year-on-year.
The figures published by the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index also indicated that ongoing inflation in sugar, meat, cereal and vegetable prices was also to blame.
The 19.9% rise in the price of fish follows a lean start to the year for US salmon fishermen, with poor cod catches and sea lice problems adding to the cost of farming.
The 6% increase for March shows that year-on-year price rises have been steadily accelerating in recent months, from 3.7% in February, 2.9% in January and 1.8% in December.
The gap between the Foodservice Price Index and the Consumer Price Index has grown to 1.2% in the 12 months to March 2017.
Christopher Clare, head of consulting and insight at Prestige Purchasing, which co-produces the report with CGA Strategy, commented: “While the inflationary figures regarding fish will no doubt make the headlines this month, the overall level of inflation has really been driven by across the board price increases as the real effects of prolonged depression in the value of sterling take their toll on operators. Being informed at times like this is critical.”
Prices in the foodservice sector continue to be affected by a number of factors.
The weak pound has driven overseas demand for British meat and poultry products, pushing prices up significantly on 2016, while lower than usual exports and rising prices from UK beet producers has pushed sugar, chocolate and other confectionery inflation to above 10%.
Rising oil prices, lower than usual supply of many items, as well as regional and climatic issues, are also impacting inflation.
But the report pointed to some respite in inflation in vegetables. Prices are still up year-on–year, but the level of inflation has decreased while growth in British vegetable production in 2017 is expected to further push inflation down.
CGA Strategy chief executive Phil Tate said: “With inflation unlikely to ease soon, foodservice companies will need to adopt smart pricing strategies and stay nimble and flexible in their purchasing in the coming months.”