The cost of a family food shop could skyrocket this year because of the appalling weather in 2012, the boss of one of Britain's top supermarkets warned.

Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose, predicted the price of basic food items could rise by as much as five per cent.

And he warned that the inflation-busting rises were just "the tip of the iceberg", with further pain on the way for at least two years.

Last year was the second wettest on record, the Met Office said on Thursday, leading to crop yields being spoiled across the UK and a shortage of supply.

Mr Price suggested the prices of bread and vegetables in particular are likely to spiral.

He said: "We're seeing input food inflation of around three to 3.5 per cent, but we expect it to go up to as much as five.

"But you can't ever say how high these increases will end up being. The one safe thing to say is that demand will outstrip supply.

"It is likely that food inflation will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In some commodities the increases will be massive. It's bread, vegetables, all produce.

"The apple crop was down 20 per cent to 30 per cent so apple prices have to go up.

"You have only seen the tip of the iceberg. It is impossible to say how long it will last."

Mr Price also predicted a longer-term rise in the cost of meat, because of rising costs of animal feed.

Food inflation rose to 4.6 per cent in November, up from four per cent in October, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.