Another week has brought fresh challenges for the food and drink industry in the UK, as it deals with the cost of living, inflation, climate crisis – and new Prime Minister. Here is a roundup of the biggest food news:
Liz Truss becomes new PM
The news which defined the first half of this week was the appointment of Liz Truss as the UK’s new Prime Minister. With the cost of living crises weighing heavily on the country, many commentators have claimed Truss is facing the most daunting in-tray in decades.
Food industry bosses are keen to see how the new PM will support the sector. Truss, who previously held roles within Defra and the Department for International Trade, made several promises regarding food ahead of her election. Find out what they were.
Animal Rebellion delivers on promise to disrupt milk supply chain
Protest group Animal Rebellion has pledged to continually disrupt the UK’s milk supply chain until the Government accepts its demands. The Extinction Rebellion-affiliated group began its campaign over the weekend, using non-violent sit-ins and blockade-style tactics to stop the transport of milk and milk products from dairy processing plants to shops.
Effects of the group’s actions are starting to be seen, with shelves previously dedicated to milk and cream left empty in Aldi, Lidl and other supermarkets. The group says its demands of Government are two-fold: support farmers and fishing communities to transition to a plant-based future, and a subsequent rewilding campaign for land previously used for dairy farming.
Tesco boosts security to deter shoplifters
Tesco shoppers are likely to see an increase in in store security personnel in the coming weeks and months, as the supermarket ramps up measures to prevent shoplifting. Tesco Chairman John Allan said the cost of living crisis was pushing more toward shoplifting, as rising costs cause “desperate people [to take] desperate measures”.
ONS data revealed a 21% uptick in shoplifting in the 12 months to March 2022 – and as inflation continues to drive up prices for food, it is thought this number will increase in the coming months. Learn about the other measures shops are adopting to curb crime.
Haarlem becomes first city in the world to ban meat ads
The city of Haarlem in the northwest of the Netherlands will ban adverts promoting meat products from public spaces in a bid to reduce meat consumption and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Adverts on buses, shelters and public screens will need to be meat-free from 2024. The news has received mixed reviews from food producers – particularly from the country’s meat industry, which is the largest exporter of its kind in the EU. Understand why Haarlem councillors are adopting the policy.
FAO says food prices have fallen for the fifth consecutive month
The cost of five of the world’s most traded food commodities – cereals, vegetable oil, dairy, meat and sugar – fell for the fifth consecutive month in August. FAO officials believe this is at least in part due to the resumption of some exports from Ukraine, following a landmark agreement signed by the country, Russia and Turkey in late July.
Though this news is positive for the global food industry, there are still some products which have increased in price. The price of cheese, for example, has increased for the tenth consecutive month. As the year draws to a close, the FAO has also predicted a decline in cereal production of nearly 40 million tonnes from last year.
Iceland axes store openings as energy bill skyrockets
Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker revealed this week he has had to shelve plans to open several new supermarket locations, after the chain’s energy bill rose by £20 million. As a result of astronomical energy price increases, the supermarket has been left “fighting to keep the lights on,” he said.
He has called for Number 10 to adopt a more radical stance in its response to the cost of living crisis, saying “half-baked” ideas will not be enough to support the majority of the public out of hardship. Find out what support Walker is asking the Government to give businesses.