Brits Warned of Bare Shelves This Winter

Sept. 6, 2022
British supermarket shelves could be bare of certain items this winter due to an energy crisis and other factors.

British supermarket shelves could be bare of certain items this winter due to an energy crisis and other factors, the head of the UK’s chief food industry trade group has warned.

The upcoming winter will be “a really difficult winter,” Karen Betts, chief executive of the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, told members of Parliament at a committee meeting.

The biggest factor will be Russia’s shutoff of natural gas to Western Europe indefinitely. The measure, announced Sept. 5, is retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Lack of natural gas will make it difficult for many food processors to operate, especially smaller ones or ones in energy-intensive operations like baking or coffee roasting. In addition, constricted supplies of natural gas will mean less production of fertilizer – and of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fertilizer production that is usually captured and bottled for industrial purposes.

In that climate, it’s going to be hard for processors to set prices that take all the added expense of inputs into account, Betts said: “The system is still pretty precarious and that will feed into price rises and potentially the operationality of some companies.”

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