The UK has not been self sufficient in food since the 19th century. The Great and second wars brought the realisation that around half our butter, oils, meat, sugar and fruits are imported. Sure, we can live for a while on home-grown turnips and spuds; indeed the wartime cook book was heavy on a variety of dishes made from turnips, onions and potatoes, sometimes in a 'pastry' case made from, er, potatoes, and sometimes with a turnip and onion sauce. After the war we tried greater self-sufficiency in sugar; East Anglia was until recently covered in small mountains of sugar-beet, with 32-tonne artics rumbling through the lanes during the 'campaign' carrying the cargo to be turned into sugar in vast, smelly National sugar plants. We gave that up, content to go back to imported cane sugar, the sites of the sugar beet factories have been turned into bijou housing estates and the region's horses missing their nutritious diet of the flaky, chewy, gritty, sweet beet pulp by-product (it was actually quite good; a handful scooped from feed bin to Barbour pocket often kept me going during a cold afternoon).
The Speccie's graph (below) showing our annual food inflation running at 6%, about six times that in France, doesn't surprise me. The only reason the French went hungry during the last lot was because the Hun ate all their pies.
Now take a look at where our food comes from:
Add to that the vast, transport-heavy distribution networks operated by the big supermarket chains that mean that the cabbage in your local Ipswich Tesco may have been grown a mile away but may have been taken to Bridgend and back before you can buy it and you soon start to see that a massive component of our food cost is transport - oil.
Whilst Jackart has undoubtedly got it right in part that QE has moved speculation away from property to commodities including oil, speculative investment alone can't account for all of the sustained oil price rise, and if high oil prices are here to stay then only two changes will lower food costs. The first is lowered dependence on imports, the second is a more localised distribution and sales network. It just might be that Tesco has passed it's zenith, and is now in a period of managed decline as the era of vast supermarkets and their depots and oil-hungry distribution networks comes to an end.