U.K. Food Costs Set to Keep Climbing After Festive Season
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The soaring costs and staffing shortages plaguing the U.K.’s food-supply chain show little sign of ebbing next year, industry groups warned.
The country’s slaughterhouses and produce farms have been hit by worker shortages and transport bottlenecks this year, while rocketing prices of fertilizer, energy, packaging and feed are adding to the woes. Those pressures will be maintained on both manufacturers and consumers after Christmas, according to the Food and Drink Federation.
“The specter of rising inflation is going to haunt us into the new year,” Jayne Almond, the FDF’s director of policy and corporate affairs, said Tuesday at a National Farmers Union event in London. “Our worry is that this is the new normal and something we across industry and also shoppers and consumers need to get used to.”
The inflationary pressures in the U.K. are echoed worldwide, with a United Nations’ gauge of global food prices near an all-time high. Manufacturers have been absorbing some of the gains, but won’t be able to fully offset the blow, Almond said. U.K. food prices rose 2.4% in November from a year earlier, the fastest rate since 2018, government data show.
Spiking inputs and utility costs means the “cost of food will go up,” and labor shortages will force companies to cut down on their range of products, said Bob Carnell, chief executive officer of meat company ABP’s U.K. division.
Farmers are also getting squeezed. Hog producers were forced to cull tens of thousands of healthy pigs in recent months as slowdowns at slaughterhouses caused severe backlogs on farms, Zoe Davies of the National Pig Association said at the event.
Vegetable producer Barfoots threw away 700 tons of zucchini this year as there weren’t enough people to process them, according to Group Managing Director Julian Marks. Sweet corn and green beans were also left to rot, he said.
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