Bishop of St Albans asks about food supply chain issues in the UK

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 8th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address issues with the egg supply chain.

Lord Benyon (Con): The UK egg industry operates in an open market and the value of egg commodities, including the farm gate egg price, is established by those in the supply chain including farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers.

Recognising the challenges that the agricultural industry, including the egg sector, is facing due to the rise of input costs as a result of the war in Ukraine, the Government has put in place a number of measures to support supply chains. These include cuts to VAT and fuel duty and support through the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. We also recognise that both the poultry and egg sectors have been impacted by Avian Influenza. Defra announced changes to the Avian Influenza compensation scheme on 28 October and granted a concession to the rules for the labelling of free-range eggs from poultry that have been housed under Avian Influenza Prevention Zone with mandatory housing measures for longer than the 16-week period for which an automatic derogation applies.

The Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries hosted an egg industry roundtable on 6 December 2022. This involved representatives from across the UK egg supply chain. The roundtable focused on the various challenges that the sector is facing. The meeting was productive with a clear willingness from all parties to address issues affecting the supply chain.

Defra continues to work closely with the egg sector and to monitor the egg market through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group (UKAMMG).


The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address issues of supply for fruit and vegetables.

Lord Benyon: We remain in close contact with suppliers, who are clear that current issues relating to the availability of certain fruits and vegetables are predominately caused by poor weather in Spain and North Africa where they are produced. These issues have been caused by unseasonal weather hampering production and harvest during December and January.

We are aware some supermarkets are limiting sales of certain fruit and vegetables. While short term supplies might be tight, overall, the supply chain is robust, and we are keeping the market under review through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group.

The capability, levers, and expertise to respond to disruption lie with industry.
Government’s role is to support and enable an industry-led response. UK Food Security remains resilient, and we continue to expect industry to be able to mitigate supply problems through alternative sourcing options.

We work with industry bodies across the horticulture sectors, including with the Edible Horticulture Roundtable Group (EHRG), as well as with other key stakeholders, such as the British Growers Association (BGA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) to monitor and assess the current market situation. We also work with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations at the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group (UK AMMG).

Minister Spencer will be holding an industry roundtable with supermarkets on Monday 27 February to explore their plans for a return to normal supplies and contingencies for dealing with these supply chain problems.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response and is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Defra has a collaborative relationship with industry which allows us to effectively respond to disruption, should it occur.


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