Petrol politics, trimmer trimmings & the Breakfast Club

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At risk of sounding really old, I vividly remember being sent out and about as a reporter for Sky News to report on shocking developments that saw petrol nudging 80p a litre. Gobsmacking, isn’t it? A year or so later that seemed like a steal when I was dispatched to the pumps on the A40 in Perivale to report that motorists would have to pay £1 per litre. At the time it was shocking – a blow to consumers that reignited debate about British fuel tax.

Yet I can’t remember the last time it cost me that little to fill up. It has to be a good five years. Pump prices have been creeping higher and higher, then a touch lower when the supermarkets started competing, then up again, hovering at the 128 mark. In fact it has become a bit of a game on my family car journeys now to spot where to fill up “on the cheap”.

Now government figures show the average price of UK petrol has dropped below £1.20 a litre, its lowest level since December 2010. Even better, they predict prices are headed even lower, to a bargain £1 a litre, as oil prices fall to five year lows. The price of oil has been falling since June, triggered by an oversupply on the market, as demand weakens.

Some analysts suspect that since OPEC failed to agree on restricting output to lift prices at their last meeting, oil prices may have further to fall. The market may be left to its own devices to “balance itself” until the next next Opec meeting scheduled for June.

Plenty of time then for Chancellor Osbourne to take all the credit. If delighted car drivers filling up for less overlook all that pesky austerity, those falling oil prices could be a decider in the coming general election.

imgresHands off the selection boxes

Good news for anyone preparing a yuletide feast: Christmas dinner with all the trimmings is cheaper this year as fresh food prices have fallen for the first time since 2006.

The wholesale prices of core elements such as turkey, potatoes, brussels sprouts and the ingredients for mince pies are all lower this year following three years of consecutive rises, knocking 5pc off the overall cost of Christmas dinner, according to the commodities analytics firm Mintec.

Just hold off the chocolate truffles and coffees. The price of cocoa is its highest in three and a half years (…demand, production issues etc) and Arabica coffee is a whopping 80% higher than last year because production fell really short in Brazil, where most of the world’s coffee comes from.

Then again, HSBC research says only 15% of people stick to their budget at Christmas. I’’m with them. While we’re saving on the veg, I’m sure we can stretch to a couple of selection boxes.

Retro business breakfastsimages-2

I do love a start-up story with snap crackle and pop. A new quirky London cafe has opened serving nothing but breakfast cereal. Diners can choose from a world-wide selection of over 100 different types of cereal, 12 varieties of milk (who knew?) and 20 different toppings from banana to marshmallows – for £2.50 a bowl.

Cereal Killer is the brainchild of Belfast twins Gary and Alan Keery. They tried to crowdfund the project but didn’t have enough takers. However the publicity they got from that helped them get a loan.

To misquote Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. That is of course the plan, although the brothers are keeping their options open. Gary says “Many people eat cereal throughout the day as a snack or a meal … we will be open until 10pm.”