The Food and Drink Federation’s chief executive Karen Betts warned government must act quickly to ease ‘inevitable’ food price inflation, during her organisation’s annual conference yesterday (22 March).
Speaking in front of an audience at the National Gallery, Betts will give a stark warning to the UK government and British shoppers, describing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “genuine geopolitical, energy and commodity shock”.
Betts will be predicting that President Putin’s assault on Ukraine will “have serious ramifications for us all, across Europe and globally”, with effects including “rising costs, rising inflation and unpredictable supply chains”. She will highlight that food price rises are now “inevitable”.
The effects of the war are already being felt in the supply chain, with energy prices soaring while shortages of sunflower oil and wheat are causing huge spikes in global market prices.
The chief executive will use her platform to call on the UK government to act now to ease the supply chain pressures while also supporting the millions of vulnerable households already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis.
As part of her keynote speech, Betts will ask ministers to react quickly and with greater flexibility when ingredients become unavailable. She is also calling for a National Food Security Council, enabling industry and Whitehall to react in real time to supply chain impacts.
Ministers will be urged to review upcoming regulation to avoid unnecessary costs being placed on businesses and shoppers, with Betts claiming “the UK Government was once a beacon for the better regulation agenda – it should strive to be so again.”
In message to the food and drink sector itself, the FDF’s chief executive will also set out the case for spending money on skills, new technology and more sustainable products, adding that “investing in productivity and growth” is “critical” for the industry’s long-term growth and success.