Launch of a committee inquiry into Fairness in the food supply chain.
The cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee is to investigate how profitability and risks are shared through the food supply chain and the existing government system of monitoring and regulation of these. The impact of external factors on the supply chain, such as imported food and global commodity prices, will also be examined.
With households facing the highest levels of food price inflation since the 1970s, the parliamentary committee will look at issues throughout the food supply chain from ‘farm to fork’. It will take evidence from, among others, farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and the Government.
This inquiry follows the Committee’s ongoing Food Security inquiry; issues around access to healthy and affordable food, especially for low-income households, are of continuing importance for the Committee. This focus will also include how households can access facilities such as allotments to grow their own food, and how achievable this is given the pressures of modern living.
After taking oral evidence in parliamentary evidence sessions, as well as written evidence, the Committee will issue a report with its recommendations for change where appropriate.
The Chair of the EFRA Committee, Sir Robert Goodwill MP, said:
“During these times of high food price inflation, when many people are struggling to give their families good food at a reasonable price, it’s our job as a committee to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
“We know that consumers are paying higher prices, but the question is - are the other parts of the supply chain unduly benefitting from that, or are some of them also feeling the squeeze?
“We need to strike the right balance to ensure healthy, affordable - and preferably British-produced - food is available to all of us.”
How to contribute to the inquiry
The Committee is inviting written submissions to the inquiry from people in the various parts of the supply chain as well as experts, academics and other people with experience in the area.
The full terms of reference for the inquiry are published below. However, written submissions do not have to cover every aspect of these terms of reference – your area of expertise is what we want to learn from. The deadline for written submissions is 28 July.
For advice on how to submit your evidence, and how we then use that information, please click here.
The committee will also gather information by inviting witnesses to oral evidence sessions, usually held in Parliament’s Committee Rooms. Most evidence sessions are held in public, are announced in advance, and can be watched on parliamentlive.tv
Terms of reference for the inquiry
The Committee is seeking views in the following areas:
Structure and operation of the food supply chain
- To what extent is the UK’s food supply chain currently operating effectively and efficiently?
- How could structural relationships between farmers and fishers, food producers and manufacturers, handlers and distributors, retailers and consumers be improved for both domestic and foreign foods?
Market power and regulation
- How does the market power of UK supermarkets and manufacturers compare to other participants in the food supply chain, and how does this compare to equivalent relationships in other advanced economies?
- Is existing regulation appropriate, for example the Groceries Supply Code of Practice and the Groceries Code Adjudicator for supermarkets’ direct suppliers, as well as the Secretary of State’s powers under Part 3 of the Agriculture Act 2020?
- How effectively has the Government conducted reviews of contractual practice in specific sectors, for example in the pig and dairy sectors, and should other sectors be reviewed?
Food prices, security and fairness
- What is the relationship between food production costs, food prices and retail prices? How have recent movements in commodity prices and food-price inflation been reflected in retail prices?
- What are the consequences of current relationships in the supply chain for:
- prices paid and profit margins of farmers, food manufacturers and other suppliers
- prices for consumers
- healthy food for consumers
- animal welfare and the environment
- competition between retailers?
- Does the structure of the UK food supply chain support overall domestic food security (both self-sufficiency and the availability of imported foods)?
Affordable and healthy food
- How successfully are supermarkets promoting affordable and healthy eating in the current high food inflation environment and what steps could they take to increase the take-up and affordability of healthy options? How are promotions, such as multi-buy offers, supporting healthy eating including for those on low incomes, and also affecting levels of food waste?
- What challenges do low-income households face, in both urban and rural areas, in terms of accessing affordable and healthy food from a choice of retailers?
- What measures could be taken by central and local government, and others, to enhance cooking skills to reduce reliance on processed food and improve access to self-grown food, in particular for lower income households? What challenges do such ambitions face given the pressures of modern living?