The cost of living rose unexpectedly last month after slowing for three straight months, led by eating out and rising grocery prices.
Inflation, which measures the increase in the price of something over time, rose to 10.4% through February from 10.1% in January.
Grocery costs are increasing at the fastest rate in 45 years, especially for some salads and vegetables.
The price increase occurred after a shortage was identified in supermarkets.
Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are among some of the vegetables that are in short supply, largely because of the extreme weather conditions that are affecting crops in Spain and North Africa.
The bottleneck is also exacerbated by high energy prices affecting UK manufacturers and supply chain issues.
Alcohol prices in pubs and restaurants also fueled inflation last month after falling in January, said the Office for National Statistics, which released the results.
Grant Fitzner, the chief economist at the ONS, said higher food prices for February were “not that surprising” but added, “what people didn’t expect was, firstly, in February, we saw an increase in alcohol prices in pubs and restaurants after certain discounts.”
“We are also seeing higher prices for clothing, particularly children’s and women’s clothing,” he added.
The surprise spike in inflation comes ahead of the Bank of England’s decision on whether to raise interest rates as it continues to battle inflation.
Most economists expect inflation to ease again in February, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says a slowdown is not “inevitable.”
“We recognize how difficult it is for families across the country, and as we work to fight inflation, we will be helping families this year with an average of £3,300 in living expenses per household.”