A food industry leader has warned prices could rise up to 15 per cent this year as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
2 Sisters CEO Ronald Kers told the BBC’s Today programme it had already been forced to pay 50 per cent more for the chicken it receives from farms.
Russia and Ukraine are global leaders for wheat supply while the price of gas has also skyrocketed, putting pressure on food producers’ margins.
Kers said the UK “may need to start importing less and producing more ourselves” should the war carry on for months.
“We need to work together with all supply chain partners to find a solution. It’s a very complex issue,” he said.
In recent days, farmers have called for immediate government intervention to halt rising food prices and prevent shortages.
In a letter to ministers, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) warned of “multiple compounding factors that have profound implications and risks for our food security.”
The war in Ukraine has placed pressure on grain and oilseed harvests while energy costs for food producers have skyrocketed.
The NFU also said there could be further hikes to labour costs as Ukrainian workers have made up around 60 per cent of those on seasonal worker visas to pick and pack produce after Brexit.
Some 10,000 more seasonal workers were needed and a review of the immigration system should be conducted, the industry body said.
There were also calls for the immediate prioritisation of gas for food production and to make it easier for food producers to use organic fertilisers and manure as an alternative to fossil fuels.
NFU president Minette Batters said measures were needed to “navigate the extreme volatility we see today and expect to grow in the coming months.”
Shop price annual inflation surged to the highest rate since November 2011 last month, with Brits becoming increasingly worried about the cost of living.
The rate hit 1.8 per cent in February, an increase from 1.5 per cent in January, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ.
Non-food inflation surged to 1.3 per cent in February, up from 0.9 per cent the month prior – marking the highest rate of inflation since September 2011.
Food inflation remained unchanged at 2.7 per cent in February, the highest rate since September 2013.
“Food inflation remained the key driver behind higher prices, particularly for fresh food which has been impacted by poor harvests, both in the UK and globally,” the BRC’s Helen Dickinson explained.
“Meanwhile, the increase from last month is a result of rising prices for non-food products, particularly health, beauty and furniture. There is little sign of change, with the Bank of England predicting price rises to continue until at least the spring.”