Minette Batters NFU president

Minette Batters NFU president. Photo: NFU

“Volatility, uncertainty and instability” are endangering UK farm businesses, according to the National Farmers’ Union, which is urging the government to support British food producers so they can keep supplying squeezed UK households and a growing global population (The Guardian).

Supermarkets are facing shortages of salad crops, including cucumbers, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, as well as broccoli and citrus fruits amid cold weather in producing countries such as Spain and Morocco (The Guardian).

Supermarket shelves have been left bare after a weak crop in key markets and the imposition of tighter restrictions on exports from Morocco (The Telegraph).

Aldi is doubling its presence in London as it ramps up its battle with ‘big four’ rivals. The German retailer said it wanted to add to its 60-strong estate inside the M25, creating 2,400 jobs in the process (The Mail).

Tesco is to increase hourly pay for shopfloor staff by 7% to a minimum of £11.02 an hour, its third pay rise in a year amid heavy competition for workers (The Guardian).

Sexual exploitation is rife at Kenyan farms supplying some of the UK’s most popular tea brands, an investigation has shown. The joint investigation for BBC Africa Eye and Panorama secretly filmed bosses on plantations owned by Unilever and James Finlay & Co propositioning an undercover reporter for sex in exchange for work (The Times £).

British asparagus is hitting the shelves nine weeks early, in time to be paired with a savoury pancake on Shrove Tuesday. Waitrose said it achieved the early harvest by growing its crop in the New Forest, which benefits from a warm microclimate as the shoreline is sheltered by the Isle of Wight (The Times £).

UK households ordered 12% less takeaway food in January than a year before, while the sector also faced more competition from restaurants and cafes after the lifting of pandemic restrictions (The Guardian).

The Times (£) this morning picks up yesterday’s story about BrewDog striking a joint venture partnership with Budweiser China. “The co-founder of BrewDog has long been a critic of the global brewers, once describing his company as “a beacon of non-conformity in an increasingly monotone corporate desert” and insisting he would rather “shoot myself in the head” than sell his business to one of the big boys.”

An active clothing platform in which Marks & Spencer bought a stake last year has been launched on the high street fashion retailer’s website as it “goes into battle” on sportswear (The Times £).

Bosses of small companies are increasingly upbeat about their prospects, according to a survey, adding to evidence that the outlook for the British economy may not be as bad as has been feared (The Times £).