Missed your bus? Caught in the rain? Long working day? Then the British set up the kettle and open a packet of biscuits.
Comfort food can get you through anything.
But what if your favorite brand of coffee was bought out of the supermarkets? Or has all that delicious, rich Belgian chocolate tripled in price? A world in which simple pleasures suddenly become so expensive that we have to save for weeks is hard to imagine.
In the current situation, however, it could become a reality. After Brexit in the UK and pressure from Covid-19, food prices are likely to rise 5% by the fall of 2021.
In this article, we’ll explain why it’s time for you to start stocking up.
Of course, one of the biggest problems the world has faced in recent years is the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), Covid has affected the food industry at all levels. From those harvesting grain to processing and packaging food, truck drivers to supermarket staff, all areas of the process from farm to shop are affected in some way.
This is mainly due to downsizing as a result of illness, isolation times and vacation regulations. According to The Guardian, the food industry is estimated to be short of about a fifth of its workforce, with some companies only using half the optimal workforce.
Additionally, a no-deal Brexit has resulted in imports to and from the UK being suspended and eventually reduced in recent months, which has limited food supplies. Brexit has also contributed to the decline in food workers as there is a shortage of international seasonal and long-term workers who can work. EU workers who previously worked freely in the food industry are now struggling to meet the criteria of the government’s new immigration system.
Ultimately, a huge loss of staff, both in the UK and around the world, has been a major contributor to food shortages.
Shipping container bottlenecks
The scarcity of shipping containers has a major impact on world trade. Many of these containers are stuck in Europe and North America. According to Ship Technology, this shortage has not only resulted in delays of up to two months, but container prices have almost doubled.
When the pandemic broke out in early 2020, local and national lockdowns resulted in many food production lines being stopped or scaled back, and eventually shipping companies began reducing the number of cargo ships being shipped. According to Ship Technology, this has not only reduced the import and export of goods, but also the number of containers that are returned.
Lack of truck drivers
As mentioned earlier, the downsizing has had an impact on the food industry, but the number of truck and truck drivers in particular has decreased significantly. For the past few days the government and UK retailers have been holding emergency talks to address the issue.
Both Lidl and Tesco blame empty shelves and missing products for the truck driver shortage. The Guardian believes the country has seen around 100,000 truck drivers lost to Brexit and Covid, which experts say will greatly contribute to a summer of food shortages.
Billionaires buy farmland
World-famous names like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are buying up farmland both in the US and around the world. In fact, Gates was just becoming the largest private farmland owner in America, quietly buying up nearly 250,000 acres of farmland.
Although it is not yet clear what the arable land will be used for, the production that once housed the arable land has stopped. This loss is seeping through to local and national communities, and since the US is partially responsible for the growth of foods like corn, soybeans, and wheat, it has implications on a global scale.
What is even more controversial is that Zuckerberg has been buying Hawaiian farmland for many years, most notably having acquired 700 acres of land for $ 100 million in 2014. He and his wife recently bought 600 acres of land on the same island for $ 53 million (approximately $ 38.3 million). Both purchases were controversial as it was claimed that the land was given to local farm owners in the 19th century.
These purchases not only slow production, as they are often no longer used for farming for long periods of time, but the monopoly of global farmland by the world’s wealthiest people is a daunting prospect. Not only do monopolies on farmland lead to increased food prices due to the desire for high profits, but The Norwich Radical suggests that increased use of chemicals to promote mass growth may actually have adverse effects that lead to decreased genetic diversity and resilience of plants .
However, if this freaks you out, take a deep breath.
Empty shelves as a result of Brexit and Covid are unlikely to require apocalyptic hoarding. Nor do they need to be seen as a cause for concern or panic.
Rising Prices: Is It Time To Invest?
Grocery shortages and the inevitable price inflation may not be celebrated with screams of joy, but if you have a head start, now is the time to save and stay one step ahead.
From a certain perspective, stockpiling could be seen as beneficial. This is because 1) you may find that the price of your favorite foods increases dramatically and you could then sell all of the goods at a slightly higher price than originally paid, or 2) you may never have to buy Italian biscotti again.
Storage tips and tricks
INVEST IN IMPORTED GEMS
A diverse portfolio is crucial when investing, and the same rule applies if you fill your closet with items from the EU.
First, make a list of popular European foods and buy in bulk those that have a long shelf life or are non-perishable. These foods include:
- Czech beer
- Onions from the Netherlands
- French potatoes
- Russian vodka
- Coconut and olive oil
As The Independent pointed out, some foods have already seen price increases since the Brexit vote. For example, “the cost of a 100g jar of Nescafé Original at Sainsbury’s has increased by 40p from £ 2.75 to £ 3.15 – an increase of 14 percent” and the price of a 250g jar of Marmite by 12.5%.
A House of Lords committee also believes that the UK public should be aware that 40% of vegetables sold in the UK and 37% of fruit come from the EU. This suggests that it might also be worth starting stocking up on canned fruits and vegetables, especially since the UK’s most popular apples and mandarins come from Spain and France.
The most important part of stockpiling to save money is affordable. Shopping at warehouses, shopping clubs, and food co-operatives will often reward you for buying in bulk. Check out some of the best places to do this below:
Keep in mind that this requires a high minimum order value of £ 250 so it might be worth teaming up with friends to get the most of your money.
Independent supermarkets can also be great places for deals and discounts, assuring you that your money is being used on local products! The People’s Supermarket, based in London and Unicorn Grocery, based in Manchester are good examples of this, but it’s always good to keep an eye out for others in your area.
For those who like the convenience of local supermarkets, check out Trolley.co.uk where you can save up to 30% by comparing the prices of your groceries.
Top tip: Remember that supermarkets sometimes want to mislead you that more packaging means more product and therefore better value for money. Compare packages by size and value and you will find that the smaller packages will save you money.
Check out the 8 sneaky supermarket tricks you need to know.
Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor, and therefore the information contained herein, including opinions, comments, suggestions, or strategies, is for information, entertainment, or educational purposes only. This should not be viewed as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should do their own due diligence.