Head of Britain’s largest poultry company says food is ‘too cheap’ and prices could jump more than 10% as industry faces soaring costs .
Ranjit Boparan, founder of 2 Sisters Food Group, has warned UK shoppers are facing a ‘big reset’ and the days of buying a chicken for £ 3 are drawing to a close.
Mr Boparan – known as Chicken King – highlighted the pressure on the industry from the higher costs of wages, energy and carbon dioxide, and called for “transparent and fair pricing” .
This is the businessman’s final warning on the issues facing the industry after having told Sky News earlier this year that even the Christmas turkey was threatened due to the shortage of workers such as butchers.
In his latest comments Mr Boparan said: ‘The days when you could feed a family of four with a £ 3 chicken are coming to an end.
“This is a reset and we need to clarify what it will mean.
“The food is too cheap, there is no point in avoiding the problem.
“In relative terms, a chicken is cheaper to buy today than it was 20 years ago.
“How can it be fair that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer?” “
Mr. Boparan’s business, which operates 600 farms and 16 factories, has seen its energy costs increase by more than 450% from a year ago.
Other costs such as food have also risen sharply, while shortages of truck drivers have pushed wages up.
Meanwhile, carbon dioxide – a key part of the food production process used in the slaughter process as well as for packaging – rose 500% in just three weeks, 2 Sisters said.
CO2 is a by-product of the fertilizer manufacturing process, which has been disrupted recently as soaring gas prices have prompted manufacturers to close their factories.
The government stepped in to subsidize the main producer, CF Industries, but is now withdrawing taxpayer support and users will have pay more to maintain production until next year under a deal brokered by Whitehall.
Ronald Kers, managing director of 2 Sisters, told the PA news agency that the recent disruption in supply also means fewer options for buyers.
“We had to reduce the range – a labor shortage meant more complicated items just weren’t durable for us,” he said.
Mr Kers welcomed the government’s temporary changes to visa requirements, which he said would allow the company to hire another 600-700 workers before Christmas, but called for their extension.