Cold Chain Federation calls for collaboration to tackle food inflation

Reading, UK: Cold Chain Federation chief executive Shane Brennan has called for collaboration across the food supply chain in order to tackle inflation following comments made by Tesco’s chairman John Allan about food producers.

Allan told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on 22 January that he believed some food producers could be using inflation as an excuse to raise prices and that it was “entirely possible” that some food companies were taking advantage of the poorest in society.

Allan argued that Tesco had been challenging certain suppliers who wanted to raise prices, giving the example of Heinz. Tesco temporarily removed some Heinz products such as beans and tomato ketchup last year.

Brennan said: “It would be a shame if after years of strong collaboration on Brexit and Covid we revert to slanging matches. In order to tackle food price inflation everyone across the chain has to focus on ways to stop the costs spiral. We are at the point where further increases will lead to a dramatic drop off in purchasing by consumers. That’s when everyone loses.

“The lessons of recent crisis is that we can’t do that through adversarial ‘them and us’ of the past. We have shown that the supply chain is most effective when it communicates and recognises shared interests. Costs are kept lower by simplification of SKUs, resilience in the supply chain, realistic forecasting, flexibility in delivery and stock management, shared problem solving approaches to transport/energy costs and long-term contractual commitments.

“Things are not going to get easier for food supply chains in the months/years ahead. We will continue to see issues around energy costs, labour shortages, trade interruptions, and more. It’s easy to play hardball, it’s far harder to commit to collaboration.”