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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 11:55 GMT
Farewell bacon and salad cream, hello gym
A bacon sandwich
No butties: streaky bacon is off the RPI shopping list
The UK is becoming a nation of health-conscious gym members who prefer organic fruit and veg to a bacon butty, according to the government's key measure of inflation, the Retail Price Index (RPI).


When the index began in 1947 it included wild rabbits, candles and corsets

David Blunt, Office for National Statistics
The basket of 650 of the most purchased items has been radically altered to reflect Britain's growing obsession with healthy living.

Traditional staples such as salad cream and streaky bacon are out, while herbal tea, mayonnaise and salmon fillets are in.

Gym membership has also been added to the shopping basket, which is meant to reflect a typical household's expenditure over the course of a year.

Changing tastes

The RPI, released on Tuesday, is reviewed annually, giving a fascinating picture of Britain's changing shopping habits.

"When the index began in 1947 it included wild rabbits, candles and corsets.

In this year
Salmon fillets
Mayonnaise
French stick
Herbal tea bags
Energy drinks
Home computer desk
Women's strappy top
Baseball caps
Mini disc players
Health club membership
"These days, we are into computers and camcorders, as well as the basic commodities such bread and rice."

"Less than 5% of the basket will change every year," David Blunt, of the Office for National Statistics, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Other items to be dropped from the basket this year include jigsaws and soft toys, in favour of DVD discs, mini disc players and fizzy energy drinks.

In fashion, women's ski pants are out, while evening dresses and strappy tops are in.

In the household goods section, a nest of tables has been replaced by home computer table.

Out
Rainbow trout
Salad cream
Streaky bacon
Delivered milk
Nest of tables
Women's ski pants
Jigsaw puzzles

The healthy trend began in 2000, when luncheon meat and custard powder were dropped in favour of broccoli and packed salads.

The prices of the items in the basket are checked monthly in 150 towns and cities throughout the UK.

Slight increase

Inflation rose slightly in February, from 1.8% to 1.9%.

It had previously been falling steadily for 22 months, ahead of the government's targets, fuelled by a price war between the big supermarkets.

The rate fell sharply in January, to 1.8%, the lowest level since 1976.

The ONS says the main reason for the January fall was the 4p per litre cut in unleaded petrol.

It is also watching the price of meat, which has been affected by the foot and mouth crisis.

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See also:

20 Mar 01 | Business
UK inflation nudges up to 1.9%
26 Feb 01 | UK
Three square snacks a day
16 Nov 99 | The Economy
Row over the national shopping basket
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