Why Christmas dinner keeps getting pricier

Line chart of Mintec Christmas dinner main meal index showing Christmas dinner costs on the rise
Line chart of £ per kg showing Hot summer affects wholesale turkey prices

Bah humbug. Erratic weather and African swine fever, which have affected food prices around the world, have also pushed up the price of the Christmas dinner.

This year, higher turkey, pork and Brussels sprouts prices have increased the cost of a Christmas dinner in the UK for the second consecutive year. “Turkey prices were hit by higher temperatures throughout the summer while vegetables have been affected by wet weather conditions during the past few months,” said Rutika Ghodekar, analyst at commodities data group Mintec.

The wholesale cost of the UK Christmas dinner is up 3 per cent from last year, and 12 per cent compared with 2017. Turkey prices rose 6 per cent from a year earlier, as hot summer temperatures led to fewer turkey eggs hatching this season. Turkey eggs incubated at UK hatcheries in September totalled 1.3m, halving from the previous month, said Mintec.

Meanwhile, sausages and glazed hams are expected to be more expensive because of rising demand from China. UK pork prices are up 10 per cent from a year ago amid the spread of African swine fever, a highly contagious virus which has decimated pig herds throughout south-east Asia.

Although vegetable and potato prices have risen sharply during the past few months because of heavy rains, they remain lower than a year before when extreme heat sharply reduced output. The exception has been Brussels sprouts, which were up 11 per cent. “The wet weather has taken a toll on Brussels sprouts crop,” said Ms Ghodekar.

However, there is good news for consumers. The price for Yorkshire pudding and Christmas pudding are lower, bringing down the overall cost of the festive dinner. A 14 per cent fall in the cost of wheat and 11 per cent decline in milk has meant a 3 per cent decline in the wholesale cost of Yorkshire pudding ingredients.

Christmas pudding costs are 9 per cent lower thanks to raisin prices falling more than a third, after a bumper crop in California, and sugar prices falling 3 per cent.

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