UPDATE: Voluntary food price caps won’t work supermarket bosses warn Sunak

UK Government plan to cap food prices

UK Government plans price cap on 'basic' food Image: Davizro Photography / Shutterstock.com.

Monday. May 29 at 11:22 am

The UK government has been told by the British Retailer Consortium (BRC) today, May 29, that making food caps on essential items ‘voluntary’ for supermarkets won’t work. 

With the British government still pulling together plans for the scheme, which has parallels with an opt-in scheme already running in France, they have been told their proposals will make no difference.

Supermarkets will proposedly join the scheme and be asked to charge the ‘lowest possible’ prices for essentials like bread and milk but won’t put anything mandatory in place.

The BRC has said that these measures will have no effect and that the government should be concentrating on cutting red tape in the food industry rather than introducing what they call, as quoted in the Independent: “The muddle of new regulation”.

According to Dave Lawrence on Twitter: “Rishi Sunak has been warned his plan for ‘1970s-style’ price caps will lead to food shortages amid a backlash from cabinet ministers and supermarkets. Seems he can’t get anything right.” 

It is yet to be seen if the Government will change course on this but they are accumulating nay-sayers rapidly.

Sunday. May 28 at 9:05 am

The UK government is considering a price cap on basic food items such as bread and milk. Food prices had risen by more than 19 per cent as of April 2023, prompting mitigation efforts.

This UK version of a French government initiative is said to be in its early stages of development and would only require supermarkets to introduce price caps on a voluntary basis. The supermarkets could also select the products which they saw as basic or essential.

With no plans for a mandatory cap, it seems that supermarkets will get to choose their approach or whether they participate at all. This news may not hold much relief for those suffering the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis.

Yet, when the French government were able to come to an agreement with major retailers in March this year, it was seen to positively affect rates of inflation. This would be good news for the UK as inflation rates so far this year have been amongst the worst in Western Europe.

Moving into 2023, global average food prices were seen to fall, but many have noticed the cost of food in supermarkets continues to rise.

As quoted by the BBC in April, the British Retail Consortium said: “As food production costs peaked in October 2022, we expect consumer food prices to start coming down over the next few months.”

Evidence of this is yet to be seen, with the lower prices taking time to be reflected in consumer prices. The cost of production is still attached to energy prices and fuel prices amongst other factors. Slim profit margins within the industry make for little wiggle room.

Those worst affected by rising costs hope to see falling wholesale prices reflected in their supermarket bills, as we await any impact that the UK Government’s proposed plan to cap prices on essential foods might have.

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Written by

David Laycock

Dave Laycock has always written. Poems, songs, essays, academic papers as well as newspaper articles; the written word has always held a great fascination for him and he is never happier than when being creative. From a musical background, Dave has travelled the world performing and also examining for a British music exam board. He also writes, produces and performs and records music. All this aside, he is currently fully focussed on his journalism and can’t wait to share more stories from around the world and beyond.