In a debate on food pricing today (25th May), Michael Fabricant asked the Food Minister whether local supermarkets in Lichfield, Burntwood and elsewhere are taking excess profits taking advantage of food inflation.
Michael asked: “What recent discussions has the minister had with supermarkets on ensuring that reductions in wholesale food costs are reflected in food prices?”
The Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Mark Spencer, replied: “The Department meets regularly with food retailers to discuss a range of issues including the impact of food inflation. Most recently this Tuesday, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State met with a number of food and drink manufacturers and will continue this engagement to ensure that consumers have access to a range of affordable food in recognition of the pressures people are feeling at home.”
Michael then asked: “My constituents in Lichfield and Burntwood, and indeed the rest of the country, are enduring high food inflation, as indeed they are in the rest of Europe. What mechanisms are in place to ensure that supermarkets don’t take unfair advantage and excess profits from wholesale prices?
Mark Spencer replied: “Retailers work to ensure strong competitive pressure remains in the marketplace. However, the Competition and Markets Authority announced last week that they’re looking into the grocery sector to see whether any failure in competition is contributing to prices being higher than they would be normally. The CMA will focus on areas where people are experiencing greater cost of living pressures but my Hon Friend will also be aware that the Groceries Code Adjudicator will remain separate from the CMA, and can take on investigations should they choose to do so.”
Commenting afterwards, Michael says “When wholesale food prices begin to fall again – and they will when the Ukraine War has ended – it is important that supermarkets rapidly reflect the downward change in wholesale food prices and do not behave like some fuel retailers who are quick to raise prices, but slow to reduce them when world oil prices fall. The Competition and Markets Authority must be robust in ensuring this.”