Can you guess how much sugar has gone up in price?

Putting to much sugar on corn flakes
Soaring sugar prices are thought to be driving supermarket inflation. (Getty Images)

Supermarket inflation hit a record 17.5% in March, making the cost of a weekly food shop exceedingly expensive.

Shop prices are now 8.9% higher than they were a year ago, with the British Retail Consortium warning that the rise in grocery bills "has yet to peak".

Overall food inflation accelerated to 15%, up from 14.5% last month, while the price of fresh food is now 17% higher than last March – the highest rate on record.

Inflation on items other than food also reached a new record of 5.9%, up from 5.3% in February – pushing up price tags in supermarket aisles.

While much of this inflation has been driven by poor fruit and vegetable harvests in Europe and North Africa, the rising cost of sugar has now also become a major factor.

Can you guess how much sugar has gone up?

Try your luck using our interactive chart below.

The chart above shows that, as of February 2023, the average price of a kilogram of sugar was 101p, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Using retail price index (RPI) data, the ONS has collected data showing the rise and fall of sugar prices since 1971.

It shows how in February 2022, the average RPI of sugar was just 77p per kg, marking an year-on-year increase of over 31%.

The chart shows a sharp rise from around September last year, as the cost of living crisis really began to take hold in the UK.

Why is sugar going up in price?

In October last year, record-high sugar prices in the European Union were nearly three times levels seen the previous year ago following extreme weather and a surge in energy costs, according to Reuters.

Sugar production is among the most energy-intensive industries and is especially reliant in the EU on gas.

On Tuesday, British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson admitted: "Shop price inflation has yet to peak. As Easter approaches, the rising cost of sugar coupled with high manufacturing costs left some customers with a sour taste."

But the surge in sugar prices is also down to poor harvests, particularly in India, where farmers were hit by either floods or droughts last year.

Despite this challenge, India's government has been pushing to turn surplus sugarcane to be used to make ethanol-blended petrol in a bid to reduce dependency on crude oil in response to the global energy crisis.

In February the world's biggest sugar producer said it would halt any new exports of sugar in order to protect domestic supplies.

Poor weather has previously led to poorer than expected harvests in Brazil – which vies with India as top sugar producer – as well as China.

Read more: UK braced for further price rises as inflation set to worsen, S&P warns

Global sugar production has barely shifted in more than a decade, despite high prices in the futures market, according to Stephen Geldart, Commodity Analyst at trading website Czapp.

"It’s stuck at 175 million tonnes a year (plus or minus 15m tonnes). Global sugar consumption has now caught up to this 175 million tonnes a year level. The world is on the cusp of not being able to make enough sugar."

He said that futures – contracts obligating the purchase or sale of a product at a future date – still need to be higher to incentivise more production.

Sugar beet farmers in Europe have also had poor harvests, with severe drought cutting France's 2022 crop by 7%. Farmers in the country have reportedly been deterred by an EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

It is, however, thought that sugar prices could start falling again following a recent strong harvest in Brazil.

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