Food prices are on the rise – and could get much higher due to the drop in the value of the pound and as access to cheap supplies from the EU come under threat and Member of Parliament for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, demanded to know how the Government will protect consumers going forward.
In a Commons question to the Minister for the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Alex Cunningham MP said:
“Large numbers of people in my Stockton North constituency are in work but are still in poverty, and they’re actually feeling the effects of the increasing food prices that have gone up in recent months. What is the Minister going to do to protect them in the long term?”
The Government responded arguing that there has been a 0.5% fall in food prices over the last year, and that they do monitor this regularly.
Alex made the point that falling prices aren’t what his constituents are experiencing and that is borne out by the Kantar World panel who’ve reported the rise of prices in UK supermarkets for the first time since 2014. Whilst there had been a deflation in the market, prices have increased by 0.2 percentage points, bringing a return to inflation. The weaker pound is a key reason why the sector has been warning that prices would have to go up, and this will also impact on competition between supermarkets.
Since the decision to leave the European Union, there have been predictions that the cost of food will increase due to the decreasing value of the pound and also due to the amount of food that is imported in from other countries. This will not just impact food in the supermarkets, but we could also see restaurant prices increase, as well as bakeries and fast food outlets.
Speaking after the debate, Alex said:
“As I have said on multiple occasions, I respected the decision of Stockton North and the wider country which is why I voted to invoke Article 50 to start the process of leaving the European Union.
“But this doesn’t mean that the Government are off the hook. Their tactics are offering no protection for our businesses and citizens and I fear the loss of access to cheaper food from EU countries will increase food costs considerably in coming years. Government need to act to protect us from this potential disaster for prices.”