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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Sarah Butler

Christmas dinner could cost UK families 13% more this year

An image of a Christmas dinner including turkey
The increase in the cost of Christmas dinner reflects high energy bills and poor growing conditions. Photograph: foodfolio/Alamy

Christmas dinner could cost 13% more than last year, with everything from turkey to sprouts rising sharply in price, reflecting high energy bills and poor growing conditions for vegetables.

Shoppers will have to pay a minimum of £33.08 to feed eight people, according to Good Housekeeping magazine’s Cost of Christmas Dinner survey.

The study, which found this year’s meal would cost at least £4.14 a person, compared with £3.67 in 2022, analyses the cheapest possible price for a basket of 11 dinner items, from mince pies to cranberry sauce.

The rise in cost is almost triple the overall rate of inflation, which stands at 4.7%. However, the increase is significantly less than the 35% jump in the cost of Christmas dinner recorded last year.

Carrots and brussels sprouts have increased the most in price, both by more than 150%, after difficult growing conditions in the UK that have also pushed up the price of parsnips by 71% and potatoes by 45%.

The cost of turkey is up 11% to £1.50 a person. Those with a sweet tooth may be saddened to see that mince pies are 15% more expensive but relieved that Christmas pudding prices are 1% lower. There is no change in the cost of brandy butter or cranberry sauce.

Richard Caines, the principal analyst for UK food and drink at the market research firm Mintel, said: “The increase in the price of a Christmas dinner reflects ongoing high food inflation in 2023, which still stood at 10% in October.

“The impact of rising production costs including high energy costs, along with the impact of poor weather on growing conditions, have contributed to the higher prices of root vegetables, undoubtedly pushing up the price of traditional Christmas favourites including carrots and parsnips.”

Retailers have said supplies of other vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, have also been affected by the weather.

But with household budgets tight, the seasonal campaign to win over shoppers has begun, with cut-price deals on a festive feast “bundle”.

On Thursday, Tesco announced that from Tuesday it would be offering its Clubcard loyalty scheme members a Christmas food bundle for six, including turkey, all the traditional vegetables, yorkshire puddings and stuffing, for £12.54, which it claimed undercut a similar bundle from Aldi by more than £2.

Aldi claimed its bundle would be 44p cheaper, once its cheaper fresh turkeys arrived in store next week and more generous packs of gravy granules are taken into account. A similar bundle from Sainsbury’s costs about £14.30 and Asda £19.30, largely because of the higher cost of their meat.

A recent survey by the consumer group Which? found varying rates of inflation on Christmas staples at the different supermarkets, with the cost of a turkey crown up 15% at Morrisons and down 3% at Asda. Overall, Which? found Aldi to be the cheapest supermarket to buy its basket of 12 Christmas dinner items; Waitrose was the most expensive.

Emilie Martin, Good Housekeeping’s consumer affairs director, said: “To help keep the cost of Christmas food down this year, shop around to get the best deals, always visit the supermarket with a shopping list – and stick to it. Don’t be tempted by promotions for festive food you don’t actually need that could just go to waste.”

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