Economics bulletin 24 February

Date : 23 February 2023

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 rising cost of living, the Ukraine crisis, labour shortages, policy developments and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Availability concerns remain high

In the latest consumer research conducted for IGD (17-19 February 2023) two thirds of adults (67%) experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently. This remains high and compares with just 50% in July’21.

Availability concerns are increasing most for dairy including eggs (34% compared to 18% in September). 23% claim to have experienced shortages of fresh produce, compared to 18% last month.

For further insight, please see here.

Vegetable shortages

Several UK retailers have introduced purchase limits on certain fruits and vegetables, due to supply chain disruption, in part caused by a period of poor weather in Southern Europe and North Africa.

Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has stated that “the situation will last about another two to four weeks”. Discussions between DEFRA and retailers are expected to continue.

UK-EU negotiations update

The Prime Minister has said that “intensive discussions” with the EU were ongoing regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Foreign Secretary has stated that “we are focused on finding durable solutions for Northern Ireland.”

Public sector finances boost

UK Government finances saw a surprise surplus of £5.4bn in January 2023. Self-assessed income tax receipts were the highest since April 1999 and one third higher than a year ago. High tax receipts were partly offset by significant government spending on policies such as the Energy Price Guarantee.

Business rates survey

The Valuation Office Agency are looking for businesses who pay business rates to take part in research around business rates services. The survey can be accessed here.

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