Food inflation expected to be 0% for 2016
Food prices are expected to remain broadly flat in 2016 with food inflation at 0%, according to procurement specialist Prestige Purchasing, as part of its Annual Food Inflation Report.
The report shows food inflation has remained negative for the second consecutive year, but foodservice price deflation has been slower than the retail market.
It said the sharper fall for the retail market had been caused by supermarkets being forced to be more aggressive on price in order to drive volume.
Prestige Purchasing placed headline food inflation for 2015 at -3.1% based on data from the Office of National Statistics.
The Foodservice Price Index, which was used to produce the report, placed food and drink deflation for the foodservice sector at -1% for 2015.
These headline inflation figures are in contrast to last year's forecasts, where inflation was expected to return to positive figures.
However, factors such as the strengthening of the Pound, the Russian ban on EU food products and falling oil prices has put downward pressure on prices.
David Read, chief executive of Prestige Purchasing, said: "The foodservice market hasn't been exposed to the same market dynamics and this has led to a widening gap between foodservice prices and retail prices."
Different food categories are expected to rise and fall at different rates. The largest price movements this year were seen in fish (up 5.9%) and dairy (down 4.7%), with notable movements downward in meat and oils & fats.
Read added: "The outlook for food inflation in the year ahead is likely to be relatively benign." But he warned operators should remain cautious of outside factors which could change the picture dramatically. He cited the EU referendum as a particular example, which could lead to an impact on food prices.