(Bloomberg) -- Egg shortages and rotting produce could be harbingers of the food-supply tumult coming the way of British consumers already hurt by inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.
Soaring costs of everything from fertilizers to energy are putting massive pressure on growers already squeezed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, the National Farmers Union warned Tuesday. Prices for producers are failing to keep up with input costs, forcing growers to cut back on output and risking more businesses shutting down, the group said.
“This is a very serious food security issue right now,” NFU President Minette Batters said at a press briefing in London. “We are seeing contraction” in the farming industry, she said.
The UK produces just over half of the food it consumes. However, the number of agricultural businesses registered in the UK has fallen by 7,000 since 2019, the NFU said. In the worst-case scenario, the UK will produce less and less and become more reliant on imports, Batters said.
“I fear the country is sleepwalking into further food supply crises,” she said. “We need government and the wider supply chain to act now — tomorrow could well be too late.”
Britain’s egg supply chain is already hobbled, and fruit and vegetable growers are in the firing line amid soaring energy costs and worker shortages. Other agricultural sectors also risk supply disruptions, said the union, which called on the government to set targets for domestic food security and support growers through the energy crisis.
“It is about the cost of production and it is about sharing that cost equally throughout the supply chain,” Batters said. “This is essential for consumers to continue to have access to high quality, sustainable, affordable food.”
(Updates with NFU comments in third, last paragraphs.)
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