A coalition of leading food and farming businesses is calling the government ahead of the NFU Food Security Summit taking place today (Tuesday, December 14) to set out a positive food and farming policy that creates a resilient UK supply chain.
The UK faces a deepening food supply chain crisis, the coalition warns, unless government takes urgent and meaningful action to fix the structural issues facing the industry.The coalition comprises the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Food and Drink Federation (FDF), ABP Food Group, National Pig Association (NPA), Barfoots of Botley, Arla UK and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
This year saw the first ever mass cull of healthy pigs, a shortage of seasonal workers that threatened fruit and veg being left unpicked in fields, a shortage of lorry drivers, a limited choice of products on supermarket shelves and a rise in imports due to domestic supply chain issues.
Alongside this, record inflationary pressures have affected energy, feed and fertiliser prices, it was noted.
“The UK food and farming sector is experiencing shortages in a range of areas caused by local and global factors that are putting real pressure on the supply chain, increasing costs and, ultimately, prices,” said Ash Amirahmadi, managing director at Arla Foods UK.
“The UK pig sector is still in meltdown as worker shortages continue to impact our ability to process the number of pigs we already have on farms,” added Dr. Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, who continued to call on the government.
The entire food supply chain and government must pull together and resolve the backlog now or we will have no independent pig producers left. Already 60% of the pork eaten in the UK comes from the EU – it would be a travesty to see this figure increase as more healthy UK pigs are culled on farms and their meat wasted.”
“Government has tried to paper over the cracks with short-term fixes, but if we want to avoid this crisis continuing, long-term solutions are urgently needed to ensure a resilient supply chain that enables us to continue supplying everyone at home with fantastic produce, as well as leading on the global stage,” said NFU president Minette Batters.
“A start would be a serious commitment from government to, at the very least, maintain Britain’s food production self-sufficiency level at 60% and helping to create an environment for farm and food businesses to thrive and compete in the coming years.”