The people of Britain have had enough, and they are taking to the streets. So, what are they protesting over? Our faltering economy, the state of the NHS, or the complete lack of certainty around Brexit? Nope. They are marching for Freddo.
According to the tabloids, outraged chocoholics are hitting the streets in Cardiff and London next week to protest against yet another price hike on Freddo bars, which are now an eye-watering 30p. Apparently, fans are flying into a frenzy over the fact the bar is now THREE TIMES the price it was a decade ago.
They clearly haven’t been paying attention. If they had, they’d know having to stump up a few extra pennies for a chocolate frog really is the least of their worries.
As John Lewis boss Sir Charlie Mayfield said today, retailers are operating in an almost impossibly tough market. Surging cost prices are squeezing margins, and the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is having a big impact on the wider economy.
As the government prepares for the next round of Brexit negotiations with the EU, Mayfield called for a “serious parliamentary debate” to figure out “what kind of Brexit we’re going to have in the best interests of the country and the economy”.
Manufacturers and farmers have made a similar plea, warning the wrong Brexit deal would devastate our food industry and compromise food security.
Regardless of what happens with Brexit, it is abundantly clear that – for now at least – the era of cheap food is over. Retailers and manufacturers can no longer absorb the extra costs arising from the crash in sterling, and supermarket prices will keep rising.
Forget paying more for a chocolate bar. If current predictions about food inflation are correct, some British families are going to struggle to feed their children in the not too distant future.
Given the Freddo debacle, I’d say most shoppers are still blissfully unaware of what is coming. They still see price increases as evidence of penny pinching by the food industry, rather than an economic inevitability.
Retailers arguably shoulder some of the blame for this consumer confusion. Relentless price wars in recent years have distorted the market and created a sense of entitlement among shoppers.
As Brexit looms, it’s now up to the industry to set the record straight, and educate Brits about the real cost of food and drink.