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Retail CEOs "Irritated" by Food Minister's Meeting

Retail bosses were angered by the messaging the government put out ahead of a meeting between food minister Mark Spencer and supermarket CEOs. Invitations sent out by Defra even went to the wrong people, including the former CEO of M&S, Steve Rowe.

This, coupled with headlines that made it seem as if the retailers were being "hauled in front" of the minister, caused expectations of what could be achieved to be low. Sources say that most in attendance were "not director level" and "little came from the meeting".

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said afterwards that shortages of fruit & veg in supermarkets would start to ease in the coming weeks. Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability, commented that retailers acknowledged the importance of food security, but noted that it requires a strategy involving multiple parties.

Food Minister's Response

Food minister Mark Spencer said that shoppers need to know that the food supply chain is resilient. He also asked retailers to look again at how they work with farmers and buy fruit & veg, to further build their preparedness for unexpected incidents.

Lidl became the latest supermarket to impose limits on purchases of some fruit & veg, with a limit of three items per person on peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. This was due to an increase in demand.

The NFU has pointed to rising production costs for UK growers faster than the prices paid by supermarkets as a cause of the shortages.


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