Food shortages and increase in food prices.
Lock down happened in the UK middle to late March 2020. Restaurants and pubs and other food outlets were closed for about 4 months. A lot of farmers had to throw away their produce that was grown especially for those businesses as shop retailers weren’t taking in more food than their demand.
Food shortages in shops occurred mainly because people started to panic buy. These shortages were man made; all food was waiting to be delivered in the store houses, but the demand of certain items in the shops were larger than transport could deal with. It is also possible that some of the truck drivers and shop workers were shielding, therefore further decreasing the supply ending up in the stores. With low supply and a high demand comes an increase in price for popular products, such as long lasting food (tinned beans, tinned tomatoes, dry pasta etc). Increase in food prices has already been an issue with an inflation of the currency and has only gotten worse with the lockdown.
In the UK, 90% of the seasonal workers in the agricultural sector are migrants from the EU who come over during harvesting time. In 2019 lots of overseas workers have been unwilling to come to the UK or left early due to the chaos caused by Brexit. This resulted in tonnes of food being left to rot. In 2020, this issue was made worse as with the closing of borders during lockdown it was not possible to employ EU workers at all, resulting in a decrease in yield. UK residents, particularly furloughed workers and the unemployed were invited to sign up to work on farms to harvest fruit and vegetables in a campaign called ‘pick for Britain’. Not enough people signed up for these jobs and some Romanian workers were flown into the UK to help. Much of the crops were lost, also resulting in an increase in the food prices.
With Brexit coming up, and a no deal Brexit in sight, food shortages may arise. Many foods are imported from European countries and further afield; 26% of food imports are coming from the EU and only 4% each from Africa, Asia, North and South America. Without the existing deals from the EU, we may likely see a decrease in the food quality and quantity imported into the UK and food prices will certainly once more rise.
Many people are being furloughed, unemployed and on benefits, and find they are really struggling to meet their basic needs with food prices rising rapidly the last couple of years. Many have to choose if they pay their electric bill, buy clothes for their children or put food on the table…