From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Rising food prices drove headline inflation in March to an all-time high of 33.20 per cent, relative to the February 2024 rate of 31.70 per cent. The food inflation rate stood at 40.01 per cent, in what experts described as a discomforting development.

In a broader analysis, the March 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 1.50 per cent points when compared to the February 2024 headline inflation rate.

Food inflation was 15.56 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023 (24.45 per cent).

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis was caused by increases in prices of the following items: garri, millet, akpu uncooked fermented (which are under the bread and cereals class); yam tuber, water yam (under potatoes, yam, and other tubers class); dried fish sardine, mudfish dried (under fish class); palm oil, vegetable oil (under oil and fat); beef, beef bead, liver (under meat class); coconut, watermelon (under fruit class); Lipton tea, Bournvita, milo (under coffee, tea and cocoa class).

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“On a month-on-month basis, the food inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.62 per cent which shows a 0.17 per cent decrease compared to the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.79 per cent). The fall in food inflation on a month-on-month basis was caused by a fall in the rate of increase in the average prices of guinea corn flour, plantain flour etc (under bread and cereals class); yam, Irish potatoes, coco yam (under potatoes, yam & other tubers class); Titus fish, mudfish dried (under fish class); Lipton, Bournvita, Ovaltine (under coffee, tea and cocoa class).

“The average annual rate of food inflation for the twelve months ending March 2024 over the previous twelve-month average was 31.40 per cent, which was 8.69 per cent points increase from the average annual rate of change record,” NBS said.

Meanwhile, on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.16 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in March 2023, which was 22.04 per cent. This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in the month of March 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e., March 2023).

Furthermore, on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in March 2024 was 3.02 per cent, which was 0.10 per cent lower than the rate recorded in February 2024 (3.12 per cent). This means that in the month of March 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in February 2024.