Government response to the National Food Strategy
Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, released last July, aimed to tackle many of the UK’s most pressing food system challenges, such as environmental degradation, food waste, food poverty and a bad nutrition. In January, the government is expected to release its official response. To a large extent, the government’s white paper will determine whether Dimbleby’s proposals are implemented or not, and will have broad implications for the food industry. Many of Dimbleby’s recommendations were aimed at ‘escaping the junk food cycle’, such as a Â£ 3 / kg tax on sugar and a Â£ 6 / kg tax on salt sold for use in processed foods. He also called for measures to reduce per capita consumption of red meat and dairy products by 33% by 2030.
Food price inflation hit a 14-month high of 2.1% in October and many expect it to continue until 2022. The Bank of England predicts that inflation could exceed 5% by the start of this year. Perhaps the biggest wave will come in January, as suppliers look to push up supermarket costs. Many have postponed the Christmas season, but supermarket shoppers should now be prepared. Such a surge of inflation in all food categories is unprecedented – it is everywhere from transport to packaging to raw materials.
Tax on plastic packaging
From April 2022 any plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic will be subject to the plastic packaging tax and charged by the HMRC at Â£ 200 per tonne. The new tax is expected to affect more than 20,000 producers and importers of plastic packaging and many of them are therefore considering switching to alternatives to paper. The changes are designed to encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic and the UK government estimates that the use of recycled plastic in packaging could increase by around 40% as a result.
Supply chain disruption
Labor shortages and shipping backlogs disrupt the entire finely tuned network of global trade. The worst delays in global shipping are on the west coast of the United States, where ships wait four weeks to unload due to a lack of port workers. In the UK, Felixstowe is still clogged, which means that all containers returning from inland warehouses have to be diverted to other ports. âSix months ago, companies all thought it was transient. Now every business I know of expects it to last until 2023 and 2024. Every one of them, âsaid Ian Wright, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation.
English pubs, restaurants and take-out will be required to display the calorie content of the foods they sell under rules to be introduced in April. It should also be accompanied by the statement “adults need about 2000 kcal per day” in a visible and readable format on all menus and food labels. The law will initially apply to UK businesses with more than 250 employees preparing food and drink for immediate consumption. The regulations are part of the government’s broader strategy to fight obesity and encourage people to make healthier food choices.
talks in Northern Ireland
Foreign Minister Liz Truss has taken up the torch for the renegotiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol signed by the UK and the EU two years ago. Truss says she wants “a comprehensive solution” to the agreement which requires checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Britain.
Many hope she will forge a broader and more positive relationship with the EU, but she will inevitably face the same dilemma as her predecessor Lord Frost: compromise with Brussels or risk a trade war. Frost has repeatedly warned against triggering Article 16 to suspend large parts of the protocol. The EU said this would trigger retaliation.
Brexit import controls
Beginning January 1, businesses must begin making customs declarations on imports, paying applicable tariffs, and advance notification of imports of food, beverages, and animal products. Only a quarter of UK small importers are ready, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. Physical checks will start from July 2022 and will be implemented gradually. The first phase from July will cover animal by-products and high-risk meat products, the second phase from September will cover dairy products and the third phase from November will see controls start on all other products. regulations of animal origin such as composites and fishery products.
Food was largely absent from the main COP26 talks in Glasgow this year, with the UK choosing to focus on ‘money, coal, cars, trees’. COP27 will take place this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and many hope that its presence in Africa will lead to a greater focus on food security. (Maybe a theme of âagriculture, forestry, finance, food wasteâ?)? First, it’s Davos in January, when details are expected to start to form around Glasgow’s flagship coal reduction deal. Other mini-agreements such as those on methane or deforestation could also emerge.
NI tax on transport bags
Retailers in Northern Ireland will have to increase the price of carry bags from 5p to 25p from April 1, with proceeds being reinvested in supporting the environmental sector in wider Northern Ireland. England and Scotland both increased the fee for transport bags to 10p earlier this year. When the carrier bag tax was introduced in 2013, 300 million single-use plastic bags were issued per year in Northern Ireland. This has been reduced by more than 80%, with 56.2 million bags issued in 2020/21.
From October, HFSS products (high in fat, salt and sugar) will be banned from important locations in stores, including entrances, aisle ends and checkouts. Volume promotions such as buy-in-one-free or three-for-two offers on HFSS products will also be prohibited. The government has yet to announce more details on the exact products that will be classified as HFSS foods, but retailers say the move will cause huge disruption and have asked for another postponement until 2023.
The policy is a response to concerns about the role that supermarket promotions play in driving obesity. This year’s research found that almost half of supermarket promotions were for HFSS products.
In 2021, the UK opened talks to join the CPTPP, a trade deal between 11 countries including Australia, Canada and Mexico. The UK government hopes to complete the process by the end of 2022. Under the CPTPP treaty, the vast majority of trade barriers are removed, including tariffs and quotas. They are only kept in a few sensitive areas, for example to protect the dairy industry in Canada and the rice sector in Japan. With the UK-Australia deal now signed, the CPTPP could be the most impactful trade deal to emerge in 2022.
Reshuffle of agricultural subsidies
Britain’s new post-Brexit farm subsidy scheme will gain momentum this year with a series of new programs being implemented for the first time. The incentive for sustainable agriculture will open up to current beneficiaries of the basic payment scheme and reward methods of sustainable land management such as promotion of wildlife diversity, efficient use of water, ‘improvement of hedges and management of cultivated land and meadows. The government will also introduce an exit scheme to help farmers who wish to leave the sector by paying a final lump sum.