Late on Friday (29 October), data from the US emerged that showed the country’s economy had grown by 2% during the third quarter of the year.

As in the UK, the US economy has now grown for four consecutive quarters. Technically, both markets are out of recession and the latest figures on both sides of the Atlantic (last week, the UK announced a 0.8% rise in GDP during the third quarter) have eased fears of a double-dip.

However, there is little reason for celebration. In the US, the rate of unemployment has remained at 9.6% for the last two months and there remains very real concern over the country’s growth prospects in the quarters ahead. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve meets and there is widespread expectation that it will resume its policy of quantitative easing in a bid to boost the US economy.

In the UK, there has naturally been political posturing over who should get the credit for the better-than expected growth figures. However, with half-a-million jobs set to be shed from the public sector and few signs that the private sector will take up the slack, there is very real anxiety over the UK’s economic prospects as we head into 2011.

In both markets, a double dip may now seem less likely but comparisons are being made with the stagnation seen in Japan in the 1990s.

So, while the raw data shows that the US and the UK are out of recession, the anaemic recovery in progress is not much cause for cheer. Consumer confidence remains weak and, against that backdrop, food manufacturers are now facing serious pressure from commodity prices. This column touched upon this last Monday but, with every passing day, the number of suppliers detailing the impact of a higher raw-material bill grows. Premier Foods plc’s problem in passing through prices to Tesco has grabbed the headlines over the last fortnight. On Thursday, Premier chief executive Robert Schofield tried to play down the issue, insisting the company was still in talks with Tesco. More broadly, Schofield said the group could “contain” commodity cost increases but, tellingly, he also painted a gloomy picture of trading conditions in 2011.

Premier is not the only company to publicly admit pressure from higher grain costs. CSM, the Dutch company that is the world’s largest supplier of bakery products, last week forecast its main commodities would rise in price by 20-30% and said it had started to increase its prices to cope with the spike in costs.

However, pressure is not just coming from grain. Analysts at Rabobank have warned of high sugar prices. Tingyi, the Chinese food group, has had to put up noodle prices to deal with higher palm oil, starch, onion and garlic costs, as well as flour. And today, seafood giant Thai Union Frozen Products, the new owner of John West tuna, said higher tuna and shrimp prices had eaten into its third-quarter profits. Suppliers will turn to retailers to help absorb the higher costs but will retailers – can retailers – push up prices when faced with cautious consumers and such an anaemic economic recovery?

This week, we are set to hear from some of the biggest players on both sides of the divide. Unilever and Kraft Foods issue third-quarter results on Thursday. UK retailer Morrisons reports to the market on the same day, while Metro Group, one of the world’s top five retailers, publishes its Q3 numbers tomorrow. Expect the issues of commodities and consumer confidence to take centre stage.