Your overview of economic and policy news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on the Ukraine crisis, the rising cost of living, labour shortages, COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.
The Ukraine Crisis – supply implications
The conflict in Ukraine continues to cause widespread availability and pricing disruption:
- In light of the concerns around the availability of sunflower oil, the Food Standards Agency is allowing rapeseed oil to replace sunflower oil without changing packaging information
- Concerns have been raised around the implementation of the additional 35% tariff on Russian white fish. Further clarification from DEFRA is being sought
- It is understood that operators of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme are making progress in identifying additional labour to cover the expected shortfall in seasonal workers from Russia and Ukraine
The Government has expanded its Export Support Service to cover questions related to the Ukraine crisis. See here for further details.
Hear more about how the conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated the cost of living crisis in the UK in our Viewpoint webinar on 27 April.
Updated guidance for farmers
DEFRA has announced measures to support farmers facing high input prices ahead of this growing season including steps to assist with the availability of fertilisers:
Changes to EU-GB imports and exports
It has been reported that ministers are considering delaying changes to import controls. Currently, from 1 July 2022, animal products imported from the European Union will be subject to further checks.
Businesses are encouraged to prepare for changes to these rules, further information can be found here.
See the key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses
Extended Producer Responsibility delay
The implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging is to be delayed to 2024 as part of the Government’s response to consultations with local government and industry. Other changes include:
- Introducing modulated fees based on recyclability in 2025 rather than 2024
- Producers of packaging material with a turnover between £1 million and £2 million will be required to report packaging placed into the market
COVID-19 restrictions relaxation
The Government has provided updated guidance to its ‘Living with COVID’ Plan for England. This includes:
- Free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests will continue to be available for specific groups including eligible patients and NHS and care staff
- From 1 April, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be advised to avoid contact with others for 5 days
- From 1 April, those with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell will be advised to avoid contact with others until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature
- Plans for rapid testing responses are in place, should a new health threat emerge such as a new variant
See here for the latest COVID-19 guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
P&O ferries supply disruption
There has been a limited impact on freight and passenger travel, following the suspension of P&O ferry services, with other operators taking on P&O bookings and in some cases increasing their capacity. Currently all P&O ferry services remain suspended, except the route between GB and Ireland.
P&O are no longer able to arrange alternative travel on the GB to Northern Ireland route, customers are advised to seek alternative arrangements themselves.
Energy price cap lifted
From 1 April the domestic energy price cap will rise by 54%, increasing the average household bill by £693 to £1,971.
The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that the energy price cap may be lifted by a further 40% in autumn. This would bring the average annual household energy bill to around £2,750 from 1 October.
Viewpoint: Conflict compounds cost of living crisis webinar
Wednesday 27 April, 11:00 BST
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Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs