Food bodies call on government to deliver long-term solutions to supply chain squeeze

Tue 14 Dec 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

A coalition of industry groups has warned that Britain needs to fix the supply chain to ensure food security.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has brought together the group of food and retail organisations today to discuss food security and called on government to help keep British food self-sufficiency at 60%.

NFU president Minette Batters, said:

“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.”

Labour, inflation and shortages

The call follows a year when the food sector has been affected by a range of challenges including labour shortages of workers from seasonal fruit pickers to abattoir staff and lorry drivers, alongside inflation that has driven up the price of energy, feed and fertiliser, reports the Guardian.

The past year also saw the first ever mass cull of healthy pigs in the UK, a limited choice of products on supermarket shelves and a rise in imports due to domestic supply chain issues, reports Meat management.

Organisations making up the coalition includes the NFU, Food and Drink Federation, National Pig Association, British Retail Consortium, Arla Foods UK and ABP UK.

Know your data

According to the FT, there will be little let up in supply chain pressure affecting business, including record air freight costs, ongoing container shortages, and port congestion.

It said that businesses need to get on top of their data to have a better idea of what is happening in their supply chains.

The FT also warns that China has also reported its first cases of Omicron cases bringing fears that factory shutdowns could follow.

China has a zero tolerance approach to Covid-19, so the cases in port city Tianjin and southern city Guangzhou could have knock on repercussions for production.

China shutdowns

Authorities are already trying to contain dozens of cases in the Yangtze river delta manufacturing hub. The cities of Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo, south of Shanghai, have reported almost 200 new cases this week, prompting authorities to impose restrictions on movement until March 2022.

Factories located in the region are facing transportation costs almost trebling as truck drivers have hiked prices and producers fear bottlenecks at ports.

G7 finance ministers have pledged greater cooperation to fix global supply chain issue, reports Bloomberg

In the final communique of the UK’s presidency from finance ministers and central bank governors, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the group would look to anticipate and avoid a future supply crunch.

Ministers and governors “exchanged views on how to promote greater resilience of supply chains and ways to build a more accurate picture of possible future disruptions,” the Treasury said.