Cost of traditional Christmas dinner food ‘rises three times faster than wages’

TUC data shows 18% increase on staples over year, while category including cranberry sauce is up 33%

The cost of the items that make up a traditional Christmas dinner has risen three times faster than wages this year, according to research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

In a series of calculations to back its calls for more government action on the cost of living crisis, the trade union body said Christmas staples such as a turkey, pigs in blankets, carrots and roast potatoes had risen in price by an average of 18% in the space of a year, while wages had gone up by only 5.7%.

The most recent official inflation data also indicates that some Christmas dinner components have gone up by a lot more than 18%. The food category that includes cranberry sauce and bread sauce has risen by 33% in a year, six times more than wages.

On top of that, the cost of cooking this year’s Christmas dinner will be much more expensive than last year because of soaring energy prices. Electricity and gas prices jumped by 66% and 129% respectively in the 12 months to October 2022, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

The TUC said: “If wages had gone up as much as the cost of a turkey this Christmas, the average worker would have an extra £76 a week in their pay packet.” The inflation data shows that the cost of poultry is up by 19.7% over the 12 months.

The union body is not the first – and doubtless will not be the last – organisation to crunch the numbers on Christmas dinner costs, amid indications that this season there will be more frugal fare on many people’s tables.

According to a shopping basket put together by the investment platform Interactive Investor, a Christmas turkey dinner will cost 11.4% more than last year. Its shopping list issued last week mixed luxury items such as an organic turkey crown with products from supermarket basic ranges, and the bill for the 16 items to make a meal for a family of four came to £89.11 – just over £9 higher than in 2021.

The situation was even worse for vegetarians, whose Christmas dinner bill was calculated to have gone up by 19% because the cost of a nut roast has jumped by 27%.

The TUC is calling for ministers to give fully funded, cost of living-proofed pay rises to public sector workers and to raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour “as soon as possible”.

Frances O’Grady, its general secretary, said: “Christmas should be a time for celebration. Everyone should be able to enjoy turkey and all the trimmings while they relax with their family. But soaring food and energy prices mean many families will struggle to afford the festivities. And the fact is, many workers are dreading the new year.”


Rupert Jones

The GuardianTramp

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