Britain’s M&S the latest supermarket to cut prices

By James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) -Marks & Spencer on Monday became the latest supermarket group in Britain to cut food prices, adding to signs that a surge in inflation is set to abate.

M&S’s move follows similar recent actions by the country’s major food retailers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s key pledge to halve inflation in 2023 has been undermined by persistently high food inflation, which was running at over 19% in April, according to the most recent official data, and 17.2% in May, according to industry data.

Any signs that it could abate or even reverse in the coming months are being closely watched by the Bank of England, lawmakers and consumers ground down by a cost of living crisis into its second year.

M&S cut the price of 70 staple products, such as beef mince, Greek style yoghurt, salmon fillets, chickpeas and tortilla wraps, by between 3% and 25%.

The group is also locking the prices of 150 products until the autumn, including pork sausages, Cheddar cheese and coleslaw.

Also on Monday, Morrisons, Britain’s fifth largest supermarket group, said it was cutting the prices of 47 products by an average of over 25%.

On Friday, market leader Tesco, said Britain’s food inflation has peaked.

Also last week, Asda, the No. 3 player, froze the prices of over 500 products until the end of August, No. 2 Sainsbury’s said it would cut the price of toilet paper by as much as 11% following its other recent price reductions, and upmarket grocer Waitrose reduced the price of over 200 products.

More light will be shed on grocery inflation when market researcher Kantar provides its latest reading on Tuesday and official data for May is published on Wednesday.

EXPLAINER-Why is UK food inflation so stubbornly high?

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Susan Fenton)