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Supermarkets 'to be urged to cap price on some foods'

Reports say the scheme will be on a voluntary basis - and that retailers will be able to choose which items they charge the lowest amount for.

Plans to encourage supermarkets to introduce voluntary price caps on food staples in a bid to help with the cost of living crisis are being drawn up by Downing Street.

The scheme would aim to get retailers charging the lowest possible amount for some basic products like milk and bread, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

A Number 10 source said the plans are at "drawing board stage" and would not involve government-imposed price controls.

A Treasury source told the Sunday Telegraph: "Food inflation is much more resilient and difficult to get rid of than we anticipated."

Supermarkets are expected to be allowed to select which items they would cap and only take part in the initiative, modelled on similar agreement in France, on a voluntary basis, the paper reported.

It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt backed interest rate hikes, even if they risk of plunging the UK into recession, in order to combat soaring inflation.

Although down from 10.1%, the Consumer Prices Index of inflation remains high at 8.7%, while experts have warned that alarmingly expensive food is set to overtake energy bills as the "epicentre" of the cost of living crisis.

Food prices are expected to keep rising, having already increased by 19.1% in the year to March, placing additional pressure on families.

Andrew Opie, the director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the plans would not work.

The BRC is a trade association, which includes Tesco, Iceland, Asda, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons, Booths, Aldi and Ocado among its members.

Mr Opie told Sky News the "pledge is meaningless" - adding that prices "couldn't" come down any more as "there's no money left in the supply chain".

He added that it was "highly unlikely" that any of the BRC members would sign up to the pledge.

Mr Opie called on the government to make changes to things it could influence - like business rates.

Meanwhile, Andrew Fisher - who was Jeremy Corbyn's director of policy - pointed out that many MPs on the left of the Labour Party have called for similar price caps, highlighting John McDonnell, Beth Winter and Richard Burgon.

A government spokesperson insisted that "any scheme to help bring down food prices for consumers would be voluntary and at retailers' discretion".


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