Fes­tive din­ner will cost more

The Herald - - POLITICS -

For many, it is the main event on Christ­mas Day, draw­ing fam­i­lies to­gether. But MAU­REEN SUGDEN finds the cost of Christ­mas din­ner is on the rise

IT is the feast of the year that sees fam­i­lies gather to­gether each fes­tive sea­son.

But the fall­out from Brexit – and bad weather – is see­ing the cost of Christ­mas din­ner soar.

And it comes amid re­ports Brits could strug­gle to buy red meat in the com­ing months, thanks to Brexit-in­duced staff short­ages at pro­cess­ing plants, which yule­tide din­ner fans fear will mean no pigs on blan­kets on their plates.

Es­ti­mates of the im­pact on food bills as we move to­ward Brexit in­clude a gen­eral rise of up to eight per cent on EU food im­ports, with wine al­ready said to be higher than it would have been if the UK voted to re­main.

The Wine and Spirit Trade As­so­ci­a­tion (WSTA) found that be­fore the ref­er­en­dum re­sult an av­er­age priced bot­tle of wine sold in the UK for £5.40, but this rose to £5.68.

The Jour­nal of Wine Eco­nomics found that in its “large” Brexit sce­nario – essen­tially a harder Brexit – the con­sumer price of wine in the UK will in­crease 22% by 2025.

More im­mi­nently, the bud­get will also see 7p added to a bot­tle of still wine and 9p to a bot­tle of sparkling wine from next year.

Mean­while, it is feared poul­try prices could rocket by as much as 25%, in part due to work­force is­sues.

The im­pact of the pro­longed bad weather ear­lier this year, in­clud­ing the “beast from the east”, have seen whole­sale costs surge – car­rots are up 47%, po­ta­toes up 186%, parsnips up 57% and sprouts up 42%, ac­cord­ing to data from the De­part­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs.

Last year, Good House­keep­ing found Christ­mas din­ner 2017 would cost 16 per cent more for a fam­ily of eight than a year ear­lier.

Lidl was found to have the cheap­est bas­ket for key Christ­mas din­ner in­gre­di­ents, at £25.53, while Waitrose was the most ex­pen­sive, cost­ing £41.47. Tesco was the fourth cheap­est at £28.48 and Sainsbury’s was eighth at £36.59.

Although all is of course de­pen­dent on where and how shop­pers pur­chase, a com­par­a­tive glance at shop­ping bas­kets as we ap­proach this Christ­mas re­veals that costs are up.

The same items this year – sage and onion stuff­ing mix; po­ta­toes, a medium turkey, cran­berry sauce, sprouts, car­rots, parsnips, Christ­mas pud­ding, Christ­mas cake and 12 mince pies – come in at around £36.05 at Sains­burys and £35.60 at Tesco.

Mean­while, sausages, lamb and beef may be off the menu gen­er­ally as the EU ref­er­en­dum has meant thou­sands of work­ers have gone home.

It means Christ­mas din­ners may be af­fected by short­ages and high prices, with some cuts ex­pected to dou­ble in price.

The sit­u­a­tion has also left bosses fear­ful over how they will ful­fil su­per­mar­ket or­ders dur­ing Christ­mas – one of the busiest for meat sales.

They now say around 10,000 posts are empty be­cause the sec­tor em­ploys al­most 70% of staff from EU coun­tries.

Much of the ex­o­dus is be­ing blamed on the de­clin­ing value of the pound as many for­eign work­ers want to send money home.

More than 75,000 peo­ple in the UK are em­ployed by the British Meat Pro­ces­sors As­so­ci­a­tion (BMPA) – but there are now 10 to 15% va­can­cies in lower skilled jobs, and up to 20% for skilled work­ers in some places.

BMPA deputy di­rec­tor Fiona Steiger says this is down to an ex­o­dus of work­ers from EU coun­tries since Bri­tain voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

She said: “We’ve strug­gled to keep at full staff mem­bers since the ref­er­en­dum...it’s not sus­tain­able in the long run. We are fear­ful.”

Con­cern is al­ready grow­ing for postbrexit prices.

Anal­y­sis from the British Re­tail Con­sor­tium out­lined that over three quar­ters of the food that the UK im­ports comes from the EU and with­out reach­ing an agree­ment on trade, the BRC said most of th­ese goods will be sub­ject to new tar­iffs, adding that “As a re­sult, the av­er­age cost of food im­ported by re­tail­ers from the EU would in­crease by 22%”.

David Lons­dale, di­rec­tor of the Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium, said: “The out­come of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions could have a pro­found im­pact on the food and drink, the prod­ucts that con­sumers buy and the prices they pay.”

“Putting con­sumers first in the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions and se­cur­ing a last­ing fric­tion-free and tar­iff-free trade deal with the EU is cru­cial.

“It will en­sure con­sumers con­tinue to have the widest pos­si­ble choice on shop shelves and will help re­tail­ers keep down prices for or­di­nary Scot­tish shop­pers.”

Lidl was found to have the cheap­est bas­ket for key Christ­mas in­gre­di­ents

„ The tra­di­tional Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble is a must for many house­holds dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son – but a fall in the pound and bad weather have forced the price of many items up.

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