“A dear breakfast” – Ulster Fry costs soar in last 12 months!
A firm favourite across Northern Ireland, the traditional Ulster Fry has become a lot more expensive with prices soaring over the last 12 months.
Ulster Bank's Chief Economist Richard Ramsey presented his annual Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index yesterday, Wednesday 5 April, part of the local bank's tracking of food pricing and the impact being felt by householders in the province.
The Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index, which indicates that the average price of all ingredients making up the traditional cooked breakfast plate, rose in the 12 months to the end of February, using the UK Retail Price Index (RPI).
Milk saw the biggest price increase in the index with a rise of 42.9% throughout the previous 12 months, followed by strong rises in margarine (31.5%), eggs (29.3%), butter (25.4%) and sliced loaf (21.1%).
Overall, the Ulster Fry Index rose by 19.1%, the highest increase recorded since Ulster Bank began tracking the index in 2007. The previous highest rise came in 2009, just after another recession and cost of living crisis.
There is hope on the horizon though for Northern Ireland households as Richard Ramsey says that while food inflation has been a real concern for households in recent times, these extremely high levels are likely to peak and ease.
“We know that food makes up a significant proportion of household spending and is also one of our most important economic drivers in terms of the local Food and Drink industry. So understanding how the price of these popular food items is changing gives us a useful insight into the state of typical household finances and also the overall health of the agri-food industry.
“What the Ulster Fry Index is telling us is that the price of everyday household essentials such as bread and milk have risen beyond their previous peaks, and this coupled with rising energy bills is continuing to put a squeeze on consumer spending powers.
“While it may not deliver good news initially, the reality is however, that we can expect these rises to begin to level off and we may even see some decreases in the next 12 months. That said, this will bring little comfort to those households who are struggling to contend with double-digit inflation and ongoing cost pressures on what have previously been considered every day or basic household items.”
After a year of soaring food, fuel, and energy prices for consumers and farmers alike, inflationary pressures are likely to peak and ease with further signs of recovery coming to light within the agriculture sector.
The message came as good news for members of Northern Ireland's farming community ahead of Ulster Bank's sponsorship of this year’s Balmoral Show which returns to Balmoral Park in 4 weeks’ time.
During the breakfast briefing, senior figures from within the bank provided an update on a number of key issues facing the local agri-food sector and reaffirmed Ulster Bank’s commitment to the industry.
Ulster Bank's Senior Agriculture Manager, Cormac McKervey participated alongside Richard in updating on the overall health of the local food and farming sectors and an outlook on other related economic issues.
They were joined by Ulster Bank’s Head of NI, Mark Crimmins, who encouraged those in the audience to tap into the bank’s knowledge and connections to the agrifood sector and outlined the ways Ulster Bank is tackling climate change and grasping the opportunities presented by a new, greener economy.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Crimmins said:
“The agri-food sector is a crucial component of our local economy and as such, we remain strongly committed to supporting farmers throughout this period of economic unrest.
“We recognise the challenges they face with higher input costs, the damaging effects of inflation and even the variable weather but amid these challenges, a major transformation is under way, presenting new, exciting opportunities for this sector.
“As a leading financier of renewable energy projects, we want to work with growers and producers to help them shift towards more nature-friendly practices and examine how they might produce food while emitting less. We are therefore offering new green propositions including loans and green asset financing options for qualifying SMEs. All of our business managers now undergo specialist climate training and expertly positioned to assist customers on their sustainability journey in a way that places an equitable burden on the agri-sector.”
Cormac McKervey, Senior Agriculture Manager, Ulster Bank, said:
“Undoubtedly, farmers in Northern Ireland are going through a challenging period and facing undue pressure to produce affordable food against a backdrop of labour challenges and rising input costs.
“But, compared with where we were 12 months ago, there are a few glints of optimism. Since the beginning of this year, we have seen increased activity across land, poultry, and dairy. Fertilizer prices are falling, and feed costs are also showing signs of decreasing which should alleviate some of the more upfront cost pressures.
“That said, there are still significant concerns for pig farmers where improvements seem to be happening at a slower pace than in other areas of the industry. Profitability has yet to be restored with many farmers still not breaking even. However, the direction of travel is broadly positive and while price rises to date have been small, they do appear to be sustainable.
“All eyes will be on DAERA’s Draft Ammonia Strategy for NI but whatever the outcome, this is likely to have further implications for the local industry and become a growing issue as the year progresses.”