How resilient is the UK’s food supply chain?

How resilient is the UK’s food supply chain?

9 Nov 2023

Since 2022 the UK has experienced high food inflation, with rising food prices having a significant impact as a driver of the cost of living crisis. External shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine have directly affected the UK’s food supply chain, raising questions about its resilience and potential vulnerabilities.

In an evidence session on Tuesday, the EFRA Committee will examine how the UK’s food supply chain operates, the market power of supermarkets and manufacturers in the food supply chain and the relationship between food production costs and food and retail prices. MPs will also examine whether the structure of the food supply chain creates an expectation of cheap food.

The Committee’s hearing will focus on the impact on consumers, how well they are served by the current structure of the UK’s food supply chain and how well the interests of consumers and suppliers are currently balanced. MPs will examine what steps could be taken to promote fairness and redress any existing imbalances.

The EFRA Committee will interrogate whether the rising cost of living has resulted in a deterioration in people’s food purchasing habits, considering whether increased food costs exacerbate existing health disparities.

MPs will evaluate what mechanisms the Government could put in place to help consumers in the event of future shocks to the food supply chain and will look at how the just-in-time nature of the supply chain affects its ability to withstand unforeseen disruptions.

The Committee will examine what the advantages and disadvantages are of the current structure of the UK’s food supply chain for supermarkets and question witnesses on whether loyalty card prices on food offered by some supermarkets benefit consumers and how they impact people’s access to affordable and nutritious food.


Panel 1:

  • Dr Carrie Bradshaw, Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds and member of the Global Food and Environment Institute
  • Vicki Hird, Strategic Lead on Agriculture at The Wildlife Trust and former Head of Sustainable Farming, Sustain

Panel 2:

  • Ms Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy at Which?
  • Professor Charlotte Hardman, Professor of Psychology of Eating Behaviour at the University of Liverpool
  • Dr Francesca Pontin, Research Data Scientist, Consumer Data Research Centre at the University of Leeds

Further information

This is the cross-party Committee’s first evidence session as part of its inquiry into the UK’s food supply chain. The inquiry is investigating how profitability and risks are shared through the food supply chain and it is examining the impact of external factors, such as imported food and global commodity prices, on the supply chain.

Committee membership: Sir Robert Goodwill (MP for Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative) is Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Full committee membership can be found on the EFRA website.