2 min read

UK Food Shortages Explained

UK Food Shortages Explained
The real reason we're seeing food shortages on UK supermarket shelves....

Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggs. All products that have been in short supply on the shelves of UK supermarkets this year. Why?

Supermarkets, producers and industry bodies have all been quick at blaming various factors including disease, Brexit, weather and of course the war in Ukraine.

And all of these factors have contributed, but the real reason is predominately due to price.  

The war in Ukraine has led to a surge in energy prices, inflation and has led to a cost of living crisis here in the UK.

Farmers input costs - driven by the big 3; fuel, feed and fertiliser - have soared in the aftermath of the Ukraine war whereas the prices they are being paid at farm gate haven’t.

Supermarkets are very reluctant to pass any of these production costs onto consumers, particularly during the cost of living crisis, in case they lose customers to rivals.

Margins are being squeezed with input costs on the rise and supermarkets not willing to increase the cost to consumers. This is putting huge pressure on farmers and the supply chain with many choosing to scale back or stop production altogether.

How to solve?

The food supply chain here in the UK is fundamentally broken and there needs to be a complete overhaul. I'm going to suggest 3 changes:

  • First, we need to pay farmers a fair price for their produce, based on the cost of production
  • Government support for farmers in the form of energy relief to protect against large fluctuations in the market
  • Less red tape and bureaucracy to allow suitable labour to come to the UK and help pick and deliver the produce we have available in the UK

Predictions for 2023

All of the above isn't going to happen over night.....if at all. So, unfrotunately we're going to see more of the same.

UK apples and pear industry is on a knife edge and carrots, leeks, cabbage and cauliflower may also run out within weeks

The government is calling on people to eat more homegrown produce. But that’s easier said than done particularly when farmers are going out of business each and every day.