Economics bulletin 22 April

Date : 21 April 2022

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:

  • The government is considering a number of options to ensure that fertiliser supply is maintained from the CF industries plant at Billingham. Fertiliser producers are facing significant cost pressures due to the rise in natural gas prices.
  • The Food Standards Agency is expected to issue new guidance on food labelling allowing use of further alternatives to sunflower oil. They are reported to be reviewing the potential use of refined soya bean oil, palm oil and coconut oil. Guidance allowing rapeseed oil to replace sunflower oil without changing packaging information has previously been published.
  • Further sanctions on imports and exports to Russia are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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.

UK growth forecast cut

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that the war in Ukraine will “severely set back global economic recovery.” The UK economy is now forecast to grow by 3.7% in 2022 compared to 4.7% predicted in January. The UK is expected to have the slowest growth in 2023 in the G7 at just 1.2%. Global inflationary pressure caused by commodity price shocks and the raft of western sanctions on the Russian economy are key drivers of this downgrade.

COVID-19 restrictions relaxation

In Scotland, the mandatory use of face masks in crowded indoor places such as shops and restaurants has been lifted. The Government is still recommending the use of face masks in appropriate situations.

The latest information on guidance in Scotland can be found here.

Industry groups have led calls for the Government to continue to provide free testing for businesses to help reduce staff absence and to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

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