UK food prices to jump 15% this year, industry boss warns

2 Sisters Food Group says it is paying 50% more for chicken as Ukraine conflict pushes energy and wheat costs higher

Ben Chapman
Monday 14 March 2022 20:42 GMT
<p>‘Fundamentally it means as a country we may need to start importing less and producing more ourselves’, says food industry leader  </p>

‘Fundamentally it means as a country we may need to start importing less and producing more ourselves’, says food industry leader

Food prices could jump 15 per cent this year as a result of the war in Ukraine, according to a leading industry boss.

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world's biggest suppliers of wheat. he invasion has also caused a surge in energy costs, making fertiliser, transport and heating more expensive.

Ronald Kers, the chief executive of food company 2 Sisters, told the BBC's Today programme that prices it pays farmers for chickens had risen 50 per cent.

He indicated that if the war continues for months, "fundamentally it means as a country we may need to start importing less and producing more ourselves".

"We need to work together with all food supply chain partners to find a solution to make us a country less dependent in imports ... it's a very complex issue."

Mr Kers said Brexit had made it more difficult to co-operate with Europe to ensure food security.

Last week, the National Farmers Union (NFU) wrote to ministers, urging them to make food security a top priority.

UK wheat prices are 39 per cent higher than they were a year ago, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Farmers have also had to contend with a five-fold increase in fertiliser prices.

The latest warnings came as economists forecast that poorer households face overall inflation as high as 10 per cent this year, much higher than the peak for richer families.

The Resolution Foundation think tank said that rising food and energy prices risk driving a second inflation spike this autumn, with the consumer prices index surpassing 8 per cent.

In a report published on Monday, the foundation called on the chancellor to focus support in his upcoming Spring Statement on low-and-middle-income families hardest hit by the cost of living crisis.

The outlook for many families' finances is "bleak" and Russia's invasion of Ukraine means the UK economic outlook has "deteriorated markedly", the think tank said.

It forecasts that a typical family could see their real income fall by around £1,000 this year as a result of rising prices.

Currently poorer households and wealthier ones are being impacted relatively evenly but soaring food and energy bills in the Autumn would hit low-income groups harder, the report said.

The foundation recommended increasing benefits payments by a further 5 per cent on top of the 3.1 per cent currently planned, so that payments keep pace with inflation.

“The chances of a living standards recovery this year are receding as rapidly as inflation is rising, and the risk of another recession is looming into view," said James Smith, research director at the Resolution Foundation.

"The Chancellor will therefore need to make some tough, and potentially expensive, choices in how to respond."

He added: "The Chancellor cannot protect Britain entirely from the difficult times that lie ahead, but he needs to act urgently to ensure the pain is fairly shared.”

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