Food prices will soar 50% over the next 40 years because of supply shortages, according to scientists.

The increase in global population coupled with a shift towards eating more meat and dairy will push prices up, Government think-tank Foresight warned in its The Future of Farming report.

Global food prices are currently at a record high after a series of crop failures caused by bad weather set cereal, sugar and meat prices spiralling.

Climate change will increase the risk of further crop failures as droughts and floods are expected to become more commonplace. Foresight said food production needed to be stepped up and new agricultural techniques, such as genetically modified crops, embraced.

Cocoa prices have also soared by 7% after the world’s top producer Ivory Coast’s president-elect called for a ban on exports for a month.

The warning comes after food sales by volume declined 3.4% in December, according to the ONS. Grocers Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons are all battling to keep prices low amid rising inflation by stepping up promotional campaigns.