IGD - Economics bulletin 08 October

Date : 07 October 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Availability concerns stabilise

Recent research conducted by IGD revealed that while 62% of adults experienced shortages of some food and groceries in-store or online recently, little changed compared 61% reported 10-12 September’21. There has also been little change in the number of adults who have recently felt the need to stock up or purchase more than they normally do (27% vs 26% 10-12 September).

Shopper confidence declines

IGD’s latest Shopper Confidence Index has reported that confidence has declined to its lowest level in a year, following its largest recorded monthly decline. Confidence has declined across all shopper demographics, but more so among lower income households. ShopperVista subscribers can access full details here.

Updated government measures on labour shortages

The government has provided an update on measures to ensure the stability of supply chain. These include:

  • 4,700 visas being made available for HGV drivers who will arrive from late October and leave by 28 February 2022
  • 5,500 visas for poultry workers who will arrive from late October and be able stay up to 31 December 2021

These visas will be issued on a first come first served basis. The government is encouraging all relevant businesses to start the recruitment process as soon as possible and provide a list of names to DEFRA in order to obtain the visas. The Prime Minister has made clear in his Conservative Party conference speech that he is not looking to address the current labour shortages through further changes to immigration policy. This is despite the request from The National Farmers Union and other industry bodies for the government to introduce a range of measures including a 12-month COVID Recovery Visa to alleviate labour shortages. There have also been calls from the pig industry for help from the government to address a shortage of butchers. This has led to the culling of some animals.

Labour shortages in the food and farming sector – call for evidence

Businesses have until 8 October to submit evidence into an inquiry by The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee into food and labour issues. The inquiry will explore what is causing labour shortages, and the impact on the food and farming sector both now and in the future.

Reducing risk of future labour shortages

Download a free copy of IGD’s Viewpont special edition: Focus on Labour Shortages.

The report explores the labour problems encountered in 2021 in more detail and provides actions businesses could take to mitigate this risk in the future.

Fuel supplies update

The Petrol Retailers Association have reported fuel stocks continue to improve despite 13% of forecourts in London and the South East remaining dry.

The government announced measures to improve fuel supply including:

  • Military tanker drivers to start delivering fuel to forecourts across the country
  • Almost 200 military personnel undertaking training at haulier sites
  • Allowing up to 300 fuel tanker drivers to the UK until the end of March 2022.

This follows the temporary measure to exempt the fuel industry from the 1998 Competition Act meaning that it will be easier to share information and prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.

CO2 supplies update

The government has temporarily exempted parts of the CO2 industry from competition law to further ensure supplies to UK businesses.

This follows the three week agreement between the government and CF Fertilisers to enable the restart of CO2 supplies. It is understood that CF Fertilisers is now producing fertilizer at maximum capacity. Talks are ongoing to ensure a lasting solution.

More economic news and analysis

Sign up to our bulletin

Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs