Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed food was becoming more expensive again - up 0.3% on the same month a year ago - after 31 months in a row of deflation amid a supermarket price war.
United Kingdom inflation hit its highest level since September 2013 in February, with food prices recording their first annual increase for over two years.
United Kingdom inflation exceeded the Bank of England's 2 percent target in February for the first time since 2013, on weak pound and rising oil prices. The central bank could now come under pressure to hike interest rates from their current ultra-low levels.
Ruth Gregory, UK economist at Capital Economics, says the economy is being affected by the import price shock much sooner than the MPC expected.
It is also more bad news for consumers who have already seen their purse strings squeezed with rising prices and stagnating wages.
Overall food prices lifted 0.8% between January and February, in contrast to a smaller rise of 0.1% a year earlier, after shock weather conditions in southern Europe ravaged crops and left supermarkets and restaurants grappling with a vegetable shortage. The result of the Brexit vote left investors anxious, and triggered a slip in the value of the pound.
But James Smith, economist at ING, said the Bank was likely to hold fire on rate rises due to subdued wage growth, now equal to inflation following today's data.
Core CPI rate (excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco) also surged, reaching 2.0 percent in February from 1.6 percent in January, again exceeding consensus forecast. Fuel prices rose by 1.2 percent between January and February. From this month, the ONS is including extended commentary on CPIH in its CPI releases, as it believes the reading is a more accurate gauge of price changes.
"UK inflation grew to 2.3 percent, well above the target fixed by the Bank of England".
"Meanwhile inflation at 2.3% is now higher than the growth in average earnings (2.2%), meaning real pay is officially shrinking". It is only when rising prices become entrenched that markets start to be concerned'. According to the Resolution Foundation's analysis of the ONS' data, more than 1% of this increase can be put down to rising transport costs.
Inflation has broken through the Bank of England's (BoE) 2 per cent inflation target following the largest month-on-month rise since October 2012.
The Bank's monetary policy committee (MPC), under the governor Mark Carney, has said it is happy to let inflation rise some way above its target as it balances the need to support growth and jobs with keeping price rises in check.
The pound jumped following the inflation announcement, rising 0.8% against the USA dollar to 1.246.
But the rise in inflation, even if temporary, also brings dangers for that recovery.
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