The largest downward pressure on consumer price index (CPI) inflation in the UK has come from the food and beverage sector, according to the latest numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The statistics body said today (12 April) that prices in food and non-alcoholic beverages fell 1.4% between February and March this year, compared with a 0.3% rise between the same two months a year ago.

The ONS said the 1.4% drop was a record fall for a February to March period and the downward effects were widespread and reflected supermarket-led sales.

The most significant falls came from fruit, where prices fell by 4.7% between February and March, and bread and cereals, where prices fell by 2.6% this year.

The overall CPI inflation rate fell, down to 4% in March from 4.4% in February.

Commenting on the statistics, British Retail Consortium director General Stephen Robertson said: “These figures confirm shop prices are not the cause of inflation. They’re actually making the biggest contribution to bringing it down.”

Citing numbers published by the BRC earlier today highlighting weakened consumer demand, Robertson added: “In March, sales were down more than at any time in the 16 years we’ve been measuring them. As competition for the spending that is available intensifies, retailers’ promotions and discounts slowed food inflation to its lowest since August 2009.”