Residents in the United Kingdom could go hungry this summer because of fast-rising food prices, warned an industry group as it predicted grocery bills will rise by 15 percent.
The sharp price rise will largely be down to the soaring costs producers are facing, the Institute of Grocery Distribution, or IGD, said.
Grocery price inflation is currently running at around 6.7 percent, according to the Office for National Statistics.
James Walton, the IGD's chief economist, said the organization is worried that vulnerable families will go hungry as a result.
"Sadly, many households in the UK struggled with food bills before the current inflation event began," he said. "With prices for energy, motor fuel and food rising fast, more households are moving into this vulnerable group."
He said the IGD is "already seeing households skipping meals", which he described as "a clear indicator of food stress".
The IGD, which is one of the UK grocery industry's major sources of information, said the nation is in the midst of its most serious cost of living crisis since the 1970s.
Citing the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its impact on production in the breadbasket of Europe as the major cause of looming high prices, the IGD said nations are now scrambling to find replacements for lost grain imports that had come from the region that supplied around onethird of the world's grain.
The IGD said products that use grain directly, such as bread, will be immediately impacted by the shortage, while meat production, which uses grain for animal feed, will be impacted in the coming weeks.
To make matters worse, the UK's homegrown agricultural produce is also costing more, largely because of a shortage of workers attributed to Brexit and the pandemic, but also because of rising fuel costs and even more expensive packaging.
The IGD said monthly shopping bills for a family of four will rise from 396 pounds ($481) in January to 439 pounds in January 2023 as a result.
The IGD's dire prediction followed Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, who warned in May that Britons will face "apocalyptic" increases in the cost of food.
The soaring cost of food comes at a time when prices for energy, vehicle fuel and other commodities are also skyrocketing, and wages have largely failed to keep up.
Fast-rising overall price inflation, which is running at 9 percent, weighed heavy on the Bank of England, which raised interest rates to 1.25 percent as a result.