The owner of the UK’s largest poultry supplier warned that the cost of chicken is expected to rise by more than 10%, adding that food in Britain is “too cheap.”
In a strongly worded intervention, Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, called for a “reset” in prices to reflect the true cost of producing food.
“How can it be correct that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer? You’re looking at a different world where the buyer pays more, ”he said Wednesday.
Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group produce approximately one third of all poultry products consumed by people in the UK.
Chicken is the most popular meat in the country, and its consumption far exceeds beef, lamb or pork. Any price increase is likely to have a disproportionate impact on lower-income families.
Boparan, whose facilities in the UK and Europe process more than 10 million birds a week, said Britain was entering a new era, one in which labor shortages and rising commodity prices Premiums would mean fewer options and higher prices.
He said rising inflation was “deteriorating the food supply chain” and that the government could not fix the problem.
“The days when you could feed a family of four a £ 3 chicken are coming to an end. We need transparent and honest prices. This is a reboot and we have to explain in detail what this will mean, ”he said.
“The food is too cheap, it doesn’t make sense to avoid the problem. In relative terms, a chicken today is cheaper to buy than it was 20 years ago. “
The group’s 600 farms and 16 factories, which employ 18,000 people, face rising energy costs, which Boparan said had increased between 450% and 550% over last year.
He said wages increased by 15% as did feed costs for poultry, while other inputs, including dietary supplements, wood chips for garbage, disinfectants and veterinary costs increased by as much as a twenty%.
Along with wage increases for heavy vehicle drivers, which remain scarce, fuel costs are now at their highest rate since 2013.
“Inflation is deteriorating the food sector’s supply chain infrastructure and its ability to function normally. That’s from farm to plate, ”said Boparan, who is nicknamed the King of Chickens because of his position in supplying many major retailers.
It said it needed to invest in more automation to secure the future of its operations, adding that inflation could hit “double digits” in the short term due to the wave of cost increases.
“We really have to start thinking differently about what our food priorities are and how much they cost,” Boparan said.
He welcomed seasonal temporary visas for poultry workers, which the government has brought in to ensure Christmas turkeys are ready for the holiday season, but said in the long run: “Less labor means fewer options, basic ranges , empty shelves and wage inflation, and this is not going to change.
“We need to work with our supply chains and customers to solve these problems, but it will come at a cost.”
Boparan is the latest to warn of food price inflation as global commodity prices rise, which are linked to the revival of trade as the pandemic calms down in key areas like the US. And Western Europe, combined with production problems caused by a combination of climatic factors. crisis and closures related to Covid-19.
The UK is also experiencing staff shortages, as the flow of workers from the rest of Europe, who make up a high proportion of those working in food processing, has dropped sharply since Brexit.
In the summer, the Food and Beverage Federation, which represents thousands of food producers, said food prices could rise by about 5% by fall, and turkeys and pork products could be in short supply this Christmas. Due to a shortage of delivery drivers, slaughterhouse personnel and other workers, wages and other costs increased.
Grocery prices rose 1.7% in the four weeks to October 3, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the latest figures from Kantar analysts.