Rising food prices pushed Taiwan's consumer inflation in August to its highest in nearly four years as extreme weather disrupted supplies of fruit and vegetables in some parts of the island. According to figures released by Taiwan's statistics authorities on Wednesday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a major gauge of inflation, registered a year-on-year increase of 3.42 percent last month, the highest since September 2008. It marked a monthly increase of 0.97 percent. By August, the average monthly increase of consumer prices in Taiwan was 1.84 percent. Food prices accounted for 70 percent of the rise in consumer prices as typhoons and heavy rain significantly pushed up the cost of fruit and veg. A much lower base in the same period last year also contributed to the steep rise. Besides food prices, the cost of fuel and catering also rose in August. Typhoons Saola and Tembin hit many parts of Taiwan last month, inflicting a combined agricultural loss of 984 million New Taiwanese Dollars (about 33 million U.S. dollars). As a result, statistics showed that the prices of fruit and vegetables leapt up 20.14 percent and 57.93 percent, respectively, in August. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile prices of fruit, vegetables, sea and energy products, edged up 0.95 percent over the same period last year. Consumer prices are a sensitive issue in many economies. In Taiwan, rising living costs coupled with stalled economic growth will only worsen many consumers' living conditions. In the past couple of weeks, economic data in Taiwan has turned out be particularly depressing. Figures released by Taiwan's statistics authorities last Monday showed that the island's business indicators dropped slightly in July, evidence that the global economic slowdown is taking its toll on the island's economy. Prior to that, Taiwan's export orders, a barometer of the health of the crucial export sector, fell for the fifth consecutive month in July, as the slowdown continued to have an impact. On Aug. 17, the island's authorities cut their economic growth forecast for the year to 1.66 percent from a previous estimate of 2.08 percent.