The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee on which Dr Neil Hudson MP sits, held an expert evidence session to examine current challenges facing the UK’s food chain.
Since 2022 the UK has experienced high food inflation, with rising food prices having a significant impact as a driver of the cost of living crisis. External shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have directly affected the UK’s food supply chain, raising questions about its resilience and potential vulnerabilities.
MPs delved into a host of issues from how the interests of consumers and retailers are balanced and how domestic food producers are remunerated by buyers.
Representing England’s largest rural constituency, Dr Hudson was keen to delve into the cost disparities between larger supermarkets located urban hubs and smaller convenience stores relied more on by those in countryside communities. Unfortunately, his fears were confirmed with panellists explaining that those reliant on smaller stores can pay £50 more a week for groceries.
Dr Hudson also addressed the relationship between domestic producers and suppliers, and the UK’s largest grocery retailers. Dr Hudson’s constituency has a huge farming industry and he is proud to stand up for British producers. The Groceries Code Adjudicator is currently responsible for regulating this relationship and Dr Hudson heard suggestions about how their work could be improved to benefit smaller producers.
MPs are evaluating the mechanisms Government could put in place to help consumers in the event of future shocks to the food supply chain and will look at how the just-in-time nature of the supply chain affects its ability to withstand unforeseen disruptions. This body of work will be presented to Government in due course.
Dr Neil Hudson MP said:
“With shock event after shock event impacting our food supply chain, this session was incredibly important to learn past lessons so we are able to act decisively when disaster strikes again.
“As the representative for England’s largest constituency, it was tough to hear the significant price disparities between larger urban outlets and smaller convenience stores relied upon by rural residents. I look forward to developing some workable recommendations to Government and improve people’s lives locally.
“Moreover, as a proud advocate for our brilliant British farmers– I am passionate about maintaining a fair balance between producers and buyers. Our farmers and producers must be paid a fair price. Recent event have shown all too clearly how pivotal domestic production is to our nation’s resilience.”
- Dr Carrie Bradshaw, Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds and member of the Global Food and Environment Institute
- Vicki Hird, Strategic Lead on Agriculture at The Wildlife Trust and former Head of Sustainable Farming, Sustain
- Ms Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy at Which?
- Professor Charlotte Hardman, Professor of Psychology of Eating Behaviour at the University of Liverpool
- Dr Francesca Pontin, Research Data Scientist, Consumer Data Research Centre at the University of Leeds
Watch the full committee hearing here.