Star comment: Supermarkets need to do more on prices
The rampant food price inflation that has been running at just under 20 per cent seems to be running out of steam.
Yet, with some prices doubling, and most rising by at least a fifth, that’s slim comfort for shoppers, whose wages have simply not kept pace with the price increases.
Tesco is now reducing some prices, but could probably be doing so quicker. Petrol prices are also dropping, but supermarket profit margins for fuel are up substantially and there’s still a huge disparity between petrol and diesel, as retailers profiteer by charging inflated prices for diesel.
Meanwhile, a summit is being held at Downing Street in an effort to give British farmers a fair deal and to ensure an ongoing supply of produce to our stores. Farmers and consumers are both being squeezed as the middle men get rich.
(Jeremy) Clarkson’s Farm has been an eye-opener not just to him but to the Amazon audience watching. It gives a view of the challenges farmers face and also the fear that agriculture is simply not sustainable as an industry. The fact is supermarkets are too powerful and can demand low wholesale prices while profiting at the checkout.
The Downing Street summit is welcome, but only if it brings about change. The power is with the big supermarkets and both the consumer and those that supply them are at their whim.
There is a huge imbalance that must be corrected if we are to build our capacity to feed the nation. The number of seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers is too low and supermarkets put too many companies out of business, while paying shareholders a premium and having little moral or ethical compass.
It is 50 years today since the Austin Allegro was first produced. We can now look back at the car with affection, but it was arguably the most maligned vehicle ever to be sold on these shores - our very-nearly-equivalent of the Skoda or Trabant.
In many ways it epitomised the British car industry. While other countries produced cars that its nation could be proud of, British Leyland was the butt of a nation’s jokes. The company was constantly hit by industrial strife and its cars tended to have niggling faults.
Sadly, but inevitably, the British car industry is now mostly made up of British factory workers producing cars on behalf of foreign owners.
It’s curious that the car is a source of affection where once it was a figure of fun. And it’s poignant that many would like us to be in a position where our manufacturing base was sufficiently strong to compete with that of other nations.