Pubs warned over rising food prices

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Food prices are set to rise as 'the era of cheap food is over', according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).The NFU and other farming bodies have...

Food prices are set to rise as 'the era of cheap food is over', according to the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The NFU and other farming bodies have called on pubs to pay more for produce in order to sustain a UK agricultural industry that is facing unprecedented pressure from rising commodities prices.

Cereal prices, crucial components in animal feeds, are on the rise due to poor weather, resulting in low crop yields, and farmers switching to production of biofuels. Wheat price has gone up 106 per cent in 12 months.

Food prices have already begun to rise significantly. The Office of National Statistics reported last week that food prices were rising at an annual rate of 5.1 per cent, the highest food inflation rise since June 2001. The farming industry has forecast further jumps in price. The British Pig Executive called for a price increase of 7-17p per serving of pork, for example.

Farmers claim that for years consumers have been privileged while food price inflation remained well below general inflation. As the supply chain has struggled to keep food prices at this artificially low level, farmers have been pressurised to a level that finally has become no longer sustainable, according to their representative bodies.

NFU economist Rupen Raithatha told The Publican: "It's a readjustment to where the prices should be because historically they have been too low. The era of cheap food is over.

"Farm gate prices have been declining while the price of the finished goods, even while it's been at a lower rate than inflation, has been increasing in the shops. These kinds of trends continuing will lead to UK farmers exiting the industry and not coming back in a hurry. What we need is greater reflection of changes in the cost of production."

English Beef and Lamb Executive foodservice project manager Hugh Judd urged licensees to market UK meat as premium, a move which would help consumers get used to higher prices.

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