'Communication' key as supply chain 'under threat'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Adapt accordingly: NFU president warns UK food supply chain is under threat due to rising energy costs (Credit: Getty/Instants)
Adapt accordingly: NFU president warns UK food supply chain is under threat due to rising energy costs (Credit: Getty/Instants)

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Hospitality businesses need “clear lines of communication” from suppliers to remain “prepared” as the National Farmers Union (NFU) warned British food supply was “under threat”.

Speaking on BBC 4’s Today programme yesterday (Tuesday 6 December), NFU president Minette Batters explained produce such as cucumbers and tomatoes as well as other energy intensive crops were at risk of seeing a decline in supply due to rising energy costs and urged the Government to “prioritise” food security.

However, UKHospitality (UKH) chief executive Kate Nicholls said the hospitality sector had already seen supply chains disrupted due to food inflation, which accelerated to 12.4%​ last month.

Cost-effective changes 

She said: “Safe, secure and sustainable food supply chains are essential to hospitality and we have already seen the impact on businesses when there is disruption, in the form of significant food price inflation.

“Hospitality businesses have already been seeking out suitable alternatives for some ingredients in an effort to deal with inflation and will continue to do so.

“We need clear lines of communication from suppliers to ensure that businesses are prepared and can make informed and cost-effective changes to their menus.”

Moreover, owner of the Unruly Pig​ in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield​, said the NFU’s comments were “logical” and “almost inevitable”, given the “ginormous increases” to energy costs and poultry, with recent issues regarding avian flu​ having threatened to wipe out the nation’s turkey stock ahead of the festive season.

Resilient industry 

He said: “Like everything in hospitality over the last three years, we're going to have to be nimble on our feet and adapt to particular shortages.

“Food inflation [has already] caused many operators to alter their menus and look for cheaper cuts.

“For example, we had a confit of duck leg on our menu here, and since we set the route of the menu, that has doubled in price, so we've adapted and gone back to mallard, which is half the price.

“We're a resilient industry, we've been battered to hell over the last three years or so. We will need to, and will continue to, adapt accordingly.”

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