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Business Maverick

UK probes supermarkets’ power amid soaring food prices

UK probes supermarkets’ power amid soaring food prices
A basket of staple food items at an Iceland Foods Ltd. supermarket in Christchurch, UK, on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. (Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

UK Members of Parliament are launching an inquiry into the influence of supermarkets and manufacturers on food prices as Britons struggle with an enduring cost-of-living crisis.

The legislators will investigate how profitability and risks are shared across the UK food supply chain and how the government responds to them, according to a statement on Friday from the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. They’ll also look into the nation’s diet and national food security.

Other issues under scrutiny as part of the “farm-to-fork” probe will include the impacts of imports and global commodity prices, and low-income families’ access to healthy and affordable food.

Britons are struggling with the fastest food price inflation since the 1970s, and the Bank of England on Thursday said it’s displaced energy as the biggest cause of inflationary concern. Healthy diets are getting out of reach for more Britons while shortages of items from eggs to salad ingredients in recent months have shone light on how food is sourced, raising questions over whether farmers are compensated enough for their produce.  

“We know that consumers are paying higher prices,” EFRA committee chairman Robert Goodwill said in the statement. “The question is: are the other parts of the supply chain unduly benefitting from that, or are some of them also feeling the squeeze?” 

The committee invited written submissions from farmers, retailers, consumers, the government and other interested parties by July 28. BM/DM

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