BRITISH shoppers are facing food price rises and fewer choices on supermarket shelves, according to Ranjit Singh, president of 2 Sisters Food Group.

In an intervention, Mr Singh said “rampant inflation” and labour shortages were straining supply chains.

See also: Labour challenges force cuts in poultry production

He described the current environment as a “great food reset”, suggesting that the era of cheap chicken was coming to an end.

“The days when you could feed a family of four with a £3 chicken are coming to an end.

“We need transparent, honest pricing. This is a reset and we need to spell out what this will mean.

‘Food too cheap’

“Food is too cheap. There’s no point avoiding the issue.

“In relative terms, a chicken today is cheaper to buy than it was 20 years ago.

“How can it be right that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer? You’re looking at a different world from now on where the shopper pays more.”

Inflationary challenges

2 Sisters outlined some of the inflationary challenges that the supply chain is facing. Mr Singh said:

  • In Agriculture – the farms that rear the millions of chickens have been severely hit. Feed costs are up 15%. Even the less visible commodities have risen by 20% – feed diet supplements, wood shavings for litter; disinfectants; veterinary costs; wages have risen 15% in a year.
  • In transport – the HGV driver shortage has sparked wage inflation in the transport sector that is passed on; the double-whammy comes with fuel costs which are now at their highest rate since 2013.
  • In Energy – the business’s 600 farms and 16 factories, employing 18,000, are facing soaring energy commodity costs, up 450-550% from last year.
  • In CO2 – critical in the processing of poultry and for packaging, the price of Co2 has risen 4-500% in the past three weeks. Despite the Government deal to ensure supplies are maintained, costs have spiralled to levels never seen before.
  • In packaging – the cost of food packaging, such as cardboard items and aluminium foil, have risen by 20% in the last six months.

“There are hundreds of farmers out there struggling, and they need our support just as much as anyone. Talk of ‘year zero’ might sound dramatic, but these are the facts: we really have to start thinking differently about what our food priorities are and what they cost.”