2 SISTERS chief executive Ronald Kers has warned that the crisis in Ukraine presents a major threat to food security in the UK as the cost of inputs soars.
The cost of producing chicken has already risen by close to 50% over the past year, Mr Kers said, with 5% food inflation already predicted.
But he warned that, given the “forgotten” unfolding agricultural crisis in Ukraine, food inflation could rise even more, peaking at 10%-15%.
“The events in Ukraine are an unimaginable tragedy, and our hearts go out to those affected and to our Ukrainian colleagues and supply chain partners and their friends and relatives back home. It is an incredibly worrying time, and we will do all we can to support them,” Mr Kers said.
“This conflict brings a major threat to food security in the UK, and there is no doubt the outcome of this is that consumers will suffer as a result.
‘War disrupts trade’
“War disrupts the free flow of trade, and the impacts for us are severe.
“For example, the input costs of producing chicken – with feed being the biggest component – have rocketed. Prices from the farm gate have already risen by almost 50% in a year.
“Before this war began, four to five per cent food inflation was being forecast by mid-2022. But we now could see a hyper-inflationary environment at closer to 10 to 15 per cent – more than it’s been for 50 years – if this conflict isn’t resolved quickly.
“Our business is heavily dependent on a stable agricultural sector, but we cannot isolate ourselves from events abroad, even if Ukraine seems like a faraway place. Commodities like animal feed and CO2 are vital for us.
‘No agriculture, no business’
“Our chicken doesn’t arrive on dinner tables without farmers.
“In fact, with no agriculture, there’s no business for us.
“Our concern is that a lot of people haven’t realised the food production clock is ticking.
“Ukrainian farmers should be sowing crops in March. Instead they’re fighting for their country.
“If this war is not stopped now, the UK could experience a major drop in supply of products like wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower oil.
“So a European supply chain issue escalates to become a global commodity price crisis, and none of us can escape this.
“These pressures are piled on top of the acute inflationary environment we already have, and this is why we need cross-territorial collaboration food security strategies to bring some order amongst the chaos.
“The reality is companies like 2 Sisters trade globally, and the smooth flow of trade links between states are vital.
“Without measures to isolate states from food security risks, ultimately there will be less food and higher prices to pay, with the poorest in society hit hardest.”