Cash-strapped British shoppers are facing a ‘Great Food Reset’ with less choice and higher prices, according to the owner of 2 Sisters Food Group, one of the nation’s biggest food producers.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, founder and President at 2 Sisters Food Group, says rampant inflation combined with the continuing lack of labour will ultimately result in higher prices.
According to Boparan, the days when you could feed a family of four with a £3 chicken are coming to an end. "We need transparent, honest pricing. This is a reset and we need to spell out what this will mean. Food is too cheap, there’s no point avoiding the issue. In relative terms, a chicken today is cheaper to buy than it was 20 years ago. How can it be right that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer? You’re looking at a different world from now on where the shopper pays more," he explained.
Boparan added, "Three months ago I was vocal about the Government needing to help with labour issues. I’ve now come to the conclusion that in reality it can’t fix all the problems, nor can it control inflation. The temporary seasonal visas for poultry workers is welcomed, so is the government’s willingness to look at supply chains, but we need to be honest about the long-term implications.
“Less labour means less choice, core ranges, empty shelves and wage inflation, and this isn’t going to change. We need to work with our supply chains and customers to solve these issues, but it will come at a cost. At the same time, I need to invest, increase automation and make our factories more welcoming for new recruits, which are longer-term goals. But right now I need to be honest about what this means for the consumer as inflation could reach double digits.”
Supply Chain Challenges
Boparan also outlined the massive inflationary challenges throughout the supply chain, from ‘farm to fork’.
These include farms that rear millions of chickens being severely hit by feed costs that have increased by 15%. Even the less visible commodities have risen by 20%, including feed diet supplements, wood shavings for litter, disinfectants, veterinary costs, wages have risen 15% in a year
In transport, the HGV driver shortage has sparked wage inflation in the transport sector that is passed on. In addition, fuel costs are now at their highest rate since 2013.
The business’s 600 farms and 16 factories, employing 18,000, are facing soaring energy commodity costs, up 450-550% from last year.
Critical in the processing of poultry and for packaging, the price of CO2 has increased 4% - 500% in the past three weeks. Despite the government deal to ensure supplies are maintained, costs have spiralled to levels never seen before
In packaging, the cost of food packaging, such as cardboard items and aluminium foil, have risen by 20% in the last six months.
'Supply Chain Infrastructure'
Boparan added, "Inflation is decaying the food sector’s supply chain infrastructure and its ability to operate as normal. That’s from farm to your plate. There’s hundreds of farmers out there struggling, and they need our support just as much as anyone. Talk of ‘year zero’ might sound dramatic, but these are the facts: we really have to start thinking differently about what our food priorities are and what they cost.
"I’m optimistic about our chances of seeing this through, and it’ll need a lot of hard work with everyone from our suppliers, their suppliers, to our customers and the consumer. But I think there’s a willingness to work together and sort this now, rather than waiting and seeing the British food sector wither and die. I don’t want that to happen - I want to be one of the first to face into a crisis that’s not going away and solve it."
2 Sisters employs 15,000 workers, from 36 nationalities, manufacturing a wide array of products, from poultry to pizza to pies, from ready meals to ranges of soup.
2 Sisters provides products to Aldi, Asda, Co-op, KFC, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Waitrose.