(Bloomberg) — The UK government will launch a series of reviews into the fairness of food supply chains just as the country’s antitrust regulator separately probes the cost of groceries with double-digit inflation continuing to push up prices.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration said in a statement late Monday it will examine horticulture and egg supplies to ensure farmers get fair prices. Sunak is preparing to host farming leaders Tuesday for a Farm to Fork summit to identify ways to strengthen the long-ter m resilience of the sector and help struggling farmers.
The summit comes the day after the Competition and Markets Authority said it was looking at how competition is working in the grocery retail market and will identify which products may need closer examination. Late last year, supermarkets were left with empty egg shelves due to an array of reasons including costly chicken feed costs and a bird flu outbreak.
Read More: UK Egg Crisis Shows Food-Supply Crunches That Won’t Go Away
UK inflation has remained stubbornly high as consumers have seen the sharpest jump in food prices since 1977. Groceries have now replaced energy costs as the biggest cause of inflationary concern for the Bank of England.
The UK also said Monday it would make 45,000 visas available to the horticulture sector next year — just hours after Home Secretary Suella Braverman used a speech to call for the country to train its own fruit pickers in order to cut migration — an issue that’s dividing Sunak’s government as the country’s labor market remains squeezed.
“Supporting our farmers and food producers must, and always will be, at the heart of our plans to grow the economy and build a more prosperous country,” Sunak said.
The UK said it will replace the European Union Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organization Scheme when it closes in 2026 with an expanded offer. It will create a new framework for trade negotiations, to protect farmers interests in future trade deals, after its agree ment with Australia was Panned by former Environment Secretary George Eustice.
—With assistance from Agnieszka de Sousa.