UK food prices have risen faster than elsewhere in Europe over the past three years, according to a DEFRA report.

Between June 2007 and 2010 UK prices had risen by double the average EU increase, nearly three-times as much as in Germany and over twice as fast as in France, the annual food statistics revealed.

The exchange rate between sterling and the euro was one reason for the steep rise here, the report said. “Sterling weakened against the euro from September 2007 reaching a low point at the end of 2008 at just over €1 to the pound. On average sterling was 14% weaker in 2008 and 23% weaker in 2009 compared to 2007.”

After removing the effects of exchange rate, food was 12% cheaper in the UK than in France in 2009, based on purchasing power parities. Of all food and non-alcoholic drinks only the alcohol-free drinks were more expensive in the UK.

UK prices for fruit and vegetables, including potatoes, were 17% above the EU average last year and at about the same level as in France.

Other report findings

• Total household expenditure on food rose from 15.2% to 16.8% in 2008 for low income households
• In 2008, 24 countries together accounted for 90% of UK food supply. Just over half (52%) was supplied from within the UK
• Total greenhouse gas emissions from the food chain estimated at around 160m tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2007, with an external cost estimated at £7.1bn
• One-third of greebhouse gas emissions in the UK food chain attributed to UK farming and fishing
• UK households dispose of an estimated 5.3m tonnes of avoidable food waste every year, costing households an estimated £12bn a year or £480 for an average household
• Fruit and vegetable consumption is falling. Both the Health Survey for England and the Family Food Survey report drops in 2007 and 2008.