Economics bulletin 25 February

Date : 24 February 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 COVID-19, the rising cost of living, labour shortages and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Ukraine crisis impact

While the UK food supply chain has proved to be highly resilient, concerns have been raised about how this will be impacted by the Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine. This has already led to oil prices hitting a 7-year high and gas prices have surged. This is also likely to lead to an increased pressure on pricing for a range of products ranging from sunflower oils, seafood, packaging, fertilisers, animal feed and grains (see our latest article here).

The Bank of England had previously reported at the start of February that it expected inflationary pressure to peak in April, once the energy price cap is lifted by 54%.

Concerns have also been raised about the extent to which the conflict will impact the seasonal workers scheme.

The Government’s food strategy

The Government’s food strategy white paper is expected to be published next month. It is expected to set out at a high level how government food policy will evolve across a number of areas, including skills, innovation, health and sustainability, prosperity and international trade.

IGD will provide analysis on what this means for the food and consumer goods industry here. It will also be featured in depth in our next Viewpoint report in April.

Our previous Viewpoint report – Will inflation kill the recovery? can be downloaded here.

COVID-19 restrictions relaxation

The Government has announced its ‘Living with COVID’ Plan for England. This includes:

  • The end of the legal requirement to self-isolate
  • The end of free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public from 01 April
  • The removal of the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessment from 01 April

From 1 April, the Government will replace the current ‘Working Safely’ guidance with updated public health guidance.

The Scottish Government has also set out its plans (see here) to ease most the country’s remaining restrictions.

See here for the latest COVID-19 guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Changes to EU-GB imports and exports

To date there have relatively few reported issues following the introduction of new border controls on 1 January and new Animal Health Regulation Export Health Certificates (EHCs) on 15 January 2022.

The government is continuing to engage with the European Commission to clarify the French Border Control Posts (BCPs) requirements for wild caught species of shellfish. Currently BCPs are temporarily showing flexibility to traders, allowing Food Competent Certifying Officers, in addition to Official Vets (OV’s) to sign off shipments.

It is recommended that exporters remain in regular contact with BCPs. For any further information around shellfish exports please contact: [email protected]

There remains continued concern around the number of OV’s that will be available to sign off shipments once the upcoming border changes in July take place.

See the key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses

Food traders are advised to comply with ongoing safety checks on agri-food goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, following the instruction from the Northern Ireland Executive to halt checks.

See the guidance on trade with the UK as a business based in the EU.

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