Farmers debate higher food price press coverage

Farmers are concerned about recent stories on food price rises pointing out that if prices do rise at a retail level there is no guarantee that the money will find its way back to producers.

Producers are alarmed by the PR implications of media reports which refer to farmers “passing on” costs down the supply chain.

Writing on the FWiSpace discussion forums Darling wrote: “Whenever there is a price rise in on-shelf prices in the supermarkets, it is always down to an increase in farmers’ costings.

“This answer is given even if the price the farmer receives has actually fallen or is due to fall. This wonderful piece of PR over here always means the farmer is to blame and never the retailer.”

Kansas farmer replied: “The article I saw on the online version of BBC news said that UK livestock farmers are preparing to “pass on” their higher costs for things like feed. It is great you have figured out how to pass your costs on, we still haven’t been able to do that…could you please tell me how to accomplish this?(My tongue is in my cheek).”

But in response a consumer called Zara said: “Although I sympathise with farmers I cannot see any reason why I should pay more just because it is British if the things from Poland or wherever are cheaper.

“I live in a small two bedroom house with my husband and two sons. Why should I give my money to a farmer who has a big house, fields for his kids’ ponies, a Landrover, large barns to convert to housing etc.”

In a briefing document published by the NFU, Carmen Suarez, union chief economist said food was now cheaper and more affordable than ever while farmgate prices had continued to decline in real terms.

She pointed out that: 

  • In the last 20 years food has become 20 per cent cheaper in real terms.

  • Sixty years ago the average British family spent more than one-third of its income on food. This has now dropped to less than one-tenth.

  • Farmgate prices have continued to decline in real terms – if they had grown during the past 100 years at the same rate as the general cost of living they would be, on average, four times higher than their current levels. For example, the price of wheat per tonne would now be over £600 as opposed to the current price in the region of £150.

“Recent increases in commodity prices are a reflection of global demand and supply conditions and represent an opportunity for British farmers to benefit from a long-awaited and overdue recovery in farmgate prices,” she said.
“Commodity price increases do not represent the threat to consumers, to the economy or to developing countries that some have been all too keen to depict.”

Join the discussion on the forums.

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