Festive dinner will cost more
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.