Inflation in Poland fell below the mid-point of the central bank's target range in March, a flash estimate showed on Friday, hitting its lowest level in five years thanks in part to food and energy prices.

Inflation was 1.9% in March on a year-on-year basis, according to the data from the statistics office. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast inflation of 2.20%. The central bank targets inflation of 2.5% plus or minus one percentage point.

On a monthly basis inflation was 0.2%, compared to 0.4% forecast by analysts.

"The Central Statistical Office points to a further slowdown in the growth rate of food prices and a decline in energy prices," the Polish Economic Institute (PIE) said on social media platform X. "This reading will be the lowest this year."

Price growth has fallen sharply in the largest economy in the European Union's eastern wing since it hit a peak of 18.4% in February 2023.

However, it is expected to rise in the coming months as the government withdraws anti-inflation measures.

From April, VAT on food staples will rise to 5% from 0%. A decision on unfreezing energy prices for households will be made after Easter.

"At this stage it's very difficult to say where inflation will be at the end of the year as long as we don't know the solution for energy prices," said Piotr Bielski, head of economic analysis at Santander Bank Polska.

The uncertainty over how much inflation will rise by has prompted the central bank to take a wait-and-see approach to interest rates.

Poland's main interest rate has been held at 5.75% since October, and analysts polled by Reuters expect it to remain at that level until the end of the year.

(Reporting by Marta Maciag and Mateusz Rabiega in Gdansk, Alan Charlish in Warsaw; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)