UK’s Food Tsar Points Finger at “Weird Supermarket Culture” for Their Food Shortages

Anthony Smith Images /
Anthony Smith Images /

Henry Dimbleby claimed that the “fixed-price contracts” many supermarkets in the UK have makes it easier for suppliers to send their wares elsewhere when prices are surging. This means the UK takes on an unfair share of the shortage when they occur. Many supermarkets have denied this claim, and with their stocked produce shelves for the first weekend of March, their allegations of things being okay seemed honest.

With the harsh weather ravaging crops in Spain and North Africa, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers have been in short supply for many shops in recent weeks. High energy prices are sending produce pricing soaring, and UK growers and other supply chains are feeling the pinch of their contracts. As they are written, farmers cannot sell their produce when there is too much of it, and they couldn’t be incentivized to grow more, either.

Speaking with The Guardian newspaper, he said “If there’s bad weather across Europe because there’s a scarcity, supermarkets put their prices up – but not in the UK. And therefore at the margin, the suppliers will supply to France, Germany, Ukraine.”

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents UK supermarkets, took note of the situation with a bit of a different outlook. In his eyes, retailers are “pragmatists and recognize they need to pay more when costs are high and product is short. They’re working with growers every day.”

He also believes these contracts protect the UK consumer, too. “Whereas UK retailers are doing everything they can to insulate consumers from rapidly rising prices meaning cutting their margins and negotiating on behalf of customers to keep prices as low as possible.”

Dimbleby considered the situation to be “frustrating.” He noted that “everyone is suddenly worried about a gap of vegetables in February when there are much bigger structural issues There’s just this weird supermarket culture. A weird competitive dynamic that’s emerged in the UK, and nowhere else in the world has it, and I don’t know why that is.” He realizes that this is a “very difficult one for the government to solve.”

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has also been incredibly vocal about this. Speaking with the BBC, she explained that there are options surrounding these contracts. While not all farmers are eligible to negotiate their terms, many are. “The fact that these contracts in many cases are not fit for purpose and if you’re not getting a fair return for what it is costing you, you’re going to contract your business. It’s why we are seeing many of the glasshouses across the country mothballed. They should be producing high-quality food, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, to deal with this shortage.”

Batters hit the nail on the head for the UK. It’s a problem we are having without the contracts here in the US. The middlemen running the food from farmers to the people have been price gouging the American people on both ends of the deal for ages. The President and local authorities can do little to change things, either, given the way free enterprise is conducted here in the US and especially given the removal of safeguards to incite further taxation on farmers under the leftists.

The NFU president sees that the people in the UK weren’t worried about the Ukrainian impact on their food supplies. Unlike the liberal leftists’ panic-selling programs, they opted to remain steadfast in their security to pay for what they wanted to get no matter the cost. “Food grown on our land is really not important at all, we are a wealthy nation and we can afford to import it. I think that is now looking naïve in the extreme. We’ve got huge capability here to be producing more of our fruit and vegetables.”

The US should have the same problem. Given all the land we have, it would be simple to overproduce and tank prices. Unfortunately, economists want to keep costs hyperinflated in full support of socialist policies the left perpetrates in the hopes of keeping the American people under their thumb through handouts.