The prices of agricultural goods have continued to rise in 2008, intensifying fears over food and biofuel inflation for UK consumers.

In Chicago yesterday, the cost of soya beans jumped to 19 cents to US$12.51 (£6.33) a bushel – the highest it has been in 34 years. The price of corn rose 3.5 cents to US$4.66 (£2.36) a bushel – close to its recent 11-year high – while wheat prices jumped to 30 cents to US$9.45 (£4.78) a bushel.

The news came as one of the UK’s biggest energy suppliers, Npower, confirmed yesterday that standard price tariffs for electricity and gas bills would rise to double digits.

The price of oil seeds, which are key feedstuffs for more environmentally friendly biofuels, also increased yesterday.

In Paris, rapeseed prices rose to record levels – up 1.5 per cent to €444.75 (£331.16) a tonne – while Malaysian palm oil futures hit a record US$961 (£486.51) a tonne yesterday.

Goldman Sachs head of commodities research Jeffrey Currie told the Financial Times: “This combination of food, feed and fuel demand for crops has created an upward shift in the trend demand growth for agricultural products.”