A week in news: positive steps for people and planet – the latest food and drink headlines 10-14 October
It has been another tough week for Liz Truss’s fledgling government, with criticism related to her misguided mini-budget and lack of action over the cost of living crisis reaching a fever pitch. Outside of the UK, the Ukraine-Russia conflict continues to dominate the news, following escalations from both sides.
The food industry remains intricately affected by both issues. On the brighter side, however, some positive news has emerged from New Zealand as it becomes perhaps the first country worldwide to truly take greenhouse gas emissions seriously. Here are the biggest food news headlines of the week:
UK continues to struggle with post-Brexit regulations
The UK is still struggling to keep up with post-Brexit regulations almost two years after leaving the European Union, a House of Commons committee report said this week. In particular, there are still not enough vets, toxicologists, lawyers and economists to deal with the UK’s regulatory responsibilities – and animal agriculture is one of the worst affected sectors.
Poor preparation and planning on the part of the Government have been cited as reasons for the regulatory problems, which the EU’s own watchdogs have already derided as “not fit for purpose”. How can the situation be improved?
Asda slashes driver wages, while Pret A Manger boosts pay for third time this year
Asda has drawn ire from unions and labour campaigners after announcing it will be cutting 1,500 delivery drivers’ wages. The supermarket will do so by scrapping the £1.50-an-hour premium it had introduced in the summer as a way to drive recruitment – Asda said the premium had not “delivered desired results”. Despite promising the premium would be in place until the end of the year, the retailer now says it will end later this month.
Conversely, high-street food chain Pret A Manger announced news this week that it was investing £10M into raising staff pay. This is the third pay rise for Pret staff this year, and the minimum wage is now £10.30 and £10.85 for baristas. The sandwich retailer says its desire to attract and retain staff (particularly baristas, which are in short supply) is the reason for the move.
EU considering a 50% raise to agricultural state aid ceiling
Farmers in the EU struggling to keep up with the cost of their operations may soon be able to access more than €100,000 in targeted state aid, according to leaked intel obtained by Euractiv. This is because the EU Commission is considering a significant rise to the ceiling of agricultural state aid.
The aim of the move is reportedly to soften the blow dealt by the continued invasion of Ukraine by Russia – which has seen things like energy, fertiliser costs soar. Not everyone is keen on the solution – find out why.
Asda launches ‘Ukrainian shelf’
In a bid to support Ukrainian food manufacturers, Asda stores will launch a shelf in its stores dedicated to the country’s exports. The move is a partnership between manufacturers, government agencies and start-up platform FoodTech Shelf. Costco and Aldi are expected to join the initiative in the near future.
Producers already signed up the scheme include poultry giant Myronivsky Hliboproduct, tea brand Yogoda, and dairy supplier Vista. All products included on the shelf will sport ‘Made in Ukraine’ tags.
New Zealand proposes the introduction of GHG tax for farmers
New Zealand is proposing to tax farmers for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) produced by livestock, in order to meet its 2030 methane reduction target. It is likely that if approved, the scheme will be in place by 2025.
Revenue gathered by the tax will be invested in new farming technologies, research and incentives for farmers, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who announced the plan this week while visiting a dairy farm. The news has been met by criticism from some food producers. Explore the details of the plan.