Cost of Farming Squeeze Apparent

For the first time, Andersons’ Agflation estimates include an index of Agricultural Outputs prices. The July estimates put Agflation at 23.5% annually, more than double that of agricultural outputs (10.1%). When Agflation is plotted against output prices, food inflation (denoted by CPI Food) and general economic inflation (CPI), which based on updated data for July 2022 now stand at 12.8% and 10.1% respectively, it becomes apparent that there is a cost of farming squeeze taking place.

In the months preceding June 2022, agricultural output prices generally rose in parallel with Agflation, albeit at a slightly lower rate. However, since then, these indexes have diverged considerably. Whilst recent falls in commodity grain prices have been the main driver, it also suggests that consumers are struggling to afford rising food prices and, that retailers and food service providers are reluctant to pass on further increases. With energy prices set to rise further towards winter and the Bank of England projecting that inflation will rise to 13% by year-end, the extent of the challenges facing the UK economy are stark.

Andersons ‘Agflation’ and UK Consumer Prices Index (CPI) – 2015 to 2022

Sources: ONS, Defra and Andersons

Notes: Andersons’ Agflation index builds upon on Defra price indices for agricultural inputs and weights each input cost (e.g., animal feed) by the overall spend by UK farmers. Andersons then provides a more up-to-date estimate of the price index for each input cost category.   The Agricultural Outputs index is compiled in a similar manner. Defra price indices for agricultural outputs are weighted based on their overall contribution to UK farming output. Andersons then provides more recent estimates for each output category, with the index being updated as the official Defra data becomes available.
* represents the % change versus the same month a year earlier.

Rising energy prices will also continue to affect Agflation in terms of fuel, fertiliser and feed costs. Therefore, Agflation will remain at elevated levels for this year and beyond.

Some sectors are better positioned to withstand these increases than others. Milk prices are up by 41% since July last year. Cereal prices, although lower recently, are still around 29% higher than a year ago. However, livestock prices, generally up 10-19%, are not rising as quickly as Agflation, with egg and fresh vegetable prices falling. Several of these sectors have been struggling in terms of profitability. Additional inflationary pressure on inputs will stretch working capital resources further.

Although advance BPS payments in England during July are welcome, BPS payments are declining and will by 35% lower in 2023 than in 2020. Successor schemes including the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will not bridge the income gap. If farmers are unable to get higher prices for their outputs, many will be severely squeezed in the months ahead. Difficult decisions will need to be made on cropping and enterprise viability. This will have direct implications for food supply, coming at a time when severe droughts are being experienced elsewhere, particularly in Europe.

In such times, having access to the latest available information likely to impact farmers’ decision-making is crucial. Inflationary challenges, and other key issues affecting UK farming, will be examined in much more detail during Andersons’ forthcoming Webinar, taking place on 22nd September. Tickets are priced at £70 per place, the agenda is set-out below and places can be booked by visiting: 

Agenda – UK Farming Prospects – Autumn Update

  • Farm Profitability and Finance Performance
  • Trade Update
  • Farm Policy Updates – England, Scotland and Wales
  • Sector Updates
    • Arable
    • Dairy
    • Grazing Livestock
    • Pigs and Poultry
  • Summary and Conclusions



No. of Words: 596

Authors: Michael Haverty and Richard King

Date: 10th August 2022

This news release has been sent from The Andersons Centre, 3rd Floor, The Tower, Pera Office Park, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE13 0PB. For further information please contact Michael Haverty on +44 (0)7900 907 902 or Richard King via +44 (0)7977 191427.