Britain’s Chicken King says 20-year cheap food frenzy is over

  • Food price inflation will hit double digits
  • Costs Soar – Says Chicken King
  • The problems are global – according to the Minister of Finance
  • There will be enough goods – says finmin

LONDON, Oct. 14 (Reuters) – Britain’s 20-year frenzy on cheap food is coming to an end and food price inflation could hit double digits due to a tidal wave in the soaring costs collapsing in the supply chain, Britain’s largest chicken producer has said.

Coming out of the twin crises of Brexit and COVID, the world’s fifth-largest economy faces a severe shortage of truckers, butchers and storekeepers which has exacerbated tensions in the global supply chain.

“The days when you could feed a family of four a 3-pound ($ 4) chicken are coming to an end,” said Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of 2 Sisters and known as the “Chicken King.” in a press release.

“In relative terms, a chicken is cheaper to buy today than it was 20 years ago. How is it true that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer? Pays more.”

Boparan, which produces about a third of all poultry products consumed in the UK, said he didn’t think the UK government could solve all the problems or control inflation. He said restricting the supply of labor would lead to wage inflation and invest in automation.

“Less workforce means less choice, basic ranges, empty shelves and wage inflation, and that’s not going to change,” he said. “For now, I have to be honest about what this means for the consumer, because inflation could hit double digits.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that the UK economy needs to get rid of its dependence on cheap imported labor and that it is positive that wages are set to rise.

Empty shelves of fresh chicken in a supermarket, as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide continues to rise, in London, Britain March 15, 2020. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

The Johnson government has denied that Brexit is responsible for the strains on the economy, although no other European economy has faced the same scale of supply chain disruption.

“I am confident that there will be a good supply of goods for everyone, and we are working to remove blockages where we can,” Johnson Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said in Washington.

Boparan described a tsunami of costs: the costs of feed, supplements, veterinary costs and salaries have increased by 15-20%; an acute shortage of truckers; energy and carbon dioxide costs increased by more than 500% compared to last year; and packaging up 20% in six months.

2 Sisters, founded by Boparan in 1993, sells poultry, pizzas and pies. It treats 10.4 million birds per week and has more than 700 farms.

Ronald Kers, managing director of 2 Sisters Food Group, advised people to shop normally for Christmas and said the company will do everything possible to ensure a supply of festive turkey.

Food prices rose 0.2% in annual terms in August, according to official consumer price data, breaking a series of nine-month declines.

($ 1 = 0.7310 pounds)

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; edited by Sarah Young and Elaine Hardcastle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Lee J. Murillo

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