Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Brexit: and food prices

The Sun has got a few tips on how to manage the expected rise in food prices:

GROCERY BILLS: Six clever ways to cut your food shopping bill and avoid Brexit price rises
The plunging pound could push up food prices but we’ve got six tips that will help cut down your food shopping bill 
BY TARA EVANS 17th October 2016

FOOD prices are set to rise according to experts – but your bills don’t have to.
The spat between Tesco and Unilever last week, due to the consumer goods giant trying to impose a 10 per cent price increase on the supermarket, it blamed the falling value of the pound for the hike.
In the same week, the Bank of England governor Mark Carney also warned about how Brexit has caused the pound’s value to plummet.
Today, the ex-Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is set to warn that these price rises are just the “tip of the iceberg” if the UK leaves the EU’s single market without trade agreements in place.
The pound has fallen by up to 18 per cent against other currencies since the UK voted to leave the EU in June. This has an impact on food prices because a lot of the food and drink we consume is either imported and this is usually done in dollars or euros.
If the pound continues to fall - or even remains at the same rate - it’s easy to see how increased costs from suppliers and manufacturers could start to filter through to our shopping bills.
Six clever ways to cut your food shopping bill and avoid Brexit price rises

On the other hand, the Express looks at a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Cheaper food AFTER EU exit: Consumer boost as experts now say that prices will come DOWN
BREAKING free of the EU offers an “unrivalled opportunity” to halt “staggering” food price rises, a detailed paper revealed today.By JOHN INGHAM Tue, Oct 18,

It slammed the way agricultural productivity is “being constrained by the sheer volume and intrusiveness of regulations” under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
The papers were released as Europhile former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was slammed for predicting “inevitable” price rises on food and drink if the Government opts for “hard Brexit”. Mr Clegg, who admitted at the weekend that he is plotting to derail Brexit, said grocery bills will have to bear the knock-on costs of “whopping” tariffs on imported foods imposed if the UK leaves the European single market.

But a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs yesterday said Brexit would let the UK avoid the EU’s “costly agricultural regulations” which are likely to make food prices shoot up. And it said quitting the EU would also make it easier for Britain to buy food from all around the world and bring down our prices more.
The IEA study by former NFU chief economist and Government adviser Sean Rickard described the Common Agricultural policy as the EU’s most expensive at £360billion between 2015 and 2020. He cited the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as saying that 53 per cent of its regulations come from the EU or international bodies.

Food prices set to tumble after Brexit, claim experts | UK | News | Daily Express

The Guardian carries the same report today:
Losing agricultural regulations could outweigh EU tariff costs, says thinktank | Business | The Guardian
Ploughing the Wrong Furrow – Institute of Economic Affairs

As the Independent points out, however, it is more than a weak pound and EU subsidies which will affect the price of food:

Brexit ‘could mean end of fresh British fruit and vegetables’, warns leading farmer
‘If you took migrant workers out of the supply chain you would within five days have no fresh British produce on the supermarket shelves’ 
Alexandra Sims Sunday 16 October 2016

Britain’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables may be at risk if post-Brexit immigration controls prevent Eastern Europeans from working in the UK, a leading farmer has claimed.
Guy Poskitt, who runs Poskitt’s Carrots in Goole in East Yorkshire, said that without workers from Eastern Europe the industry would fall apart. 

“If you took migrant workers out of the supply chain you would within five days have no fresh British produce on the supermarket shelves,” Mr Poskitt, whose business grows 80,000 tonnes of carrots and parsnips annually, told Sky News“[My business] would have to close; we could not serve our customers without the availability of migrant workers.”
It has become likely that Britain is headed for a hard Brexit deal – in which most ties to the EU are cut – after Prime Minister Theresa Mayappointed prominent Leave campaigners to the group of Cabinet ministers who will control the negotiations and told the Conservative Party conference this month: “We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again.”
Several leading Conservatives, including Kenneth Clarke, the former cabinet minister, have urged her to be flexible about freedom of movement to protect British access to the EU single market. EU leaders have made it clear that if Britain rejects free movement it cannot be a member of the single market.
Mr Poskitt voiced his concerns about the industry as early as February, telling the BBC: “We’ve a lot of good local workers but we also have a great need for a big amount of Eastern European workers to function our business.” He said between 60 and 70 per cent of his workforce who pack vegetables are Eastern European, adding: “We just can’t recruit enough local workers. We have to have a seven day a week workforce that supports the needs of the business and we just can’t find enough local people who will do that.”
John Shropshire, the chairman of G’s, one of the biggest producers of salads and vegetables in Britain, told the Guardian in August that the UK’s food security would be harmed if the freedom of movement for EU workers stopped. “If we don’t have freedom of movement and they don’t replace it with a permit scheme then the industry will just close down,” said Mr Shropshire. “No British person wants a seasonal job working in the fields. They want permanent jobs or jobs that are not quite as taxing physically.”

Whilst there is not so much growing of fruit and veg in Devon, there is still some - and local farmers have also expressed some concern:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and migrant workers in Devon

Meanwhile, the Sidmouth Lidl supermarket has had posters up advertising its strawberries:

Find out more about our fresh British strawberries and just how Farmer Neil manages to pick them at the perfect time to get them into stores as
soon as the next day.

Find out more about our fresh British strawberries and just how Farmer

Lidl UK 09/22/2016

The question not being asked is how many of the people actually picking strawberries for Sidmouth are 'migrant workers'...

See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and farming benefitting from a weaker pound >>> and looking after a £108bn industry
Futures Forum: Brexit: and an uncertain future for farming

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