Technology, communications and digital infrastructure projects and spending commitments to promoting innovation will help UK Plc., but for advanced industries, such as agri-food, the drip-down benefits are likely to be more incremental. The UK agri-food value chain is a lean and highly productive machine, but the challenge of higher energy costs combined with a stagnating pound will lead many in the industry to search behind the sofa for lost pennies.
Farmers and food processors will need to develop some creative accounting of their own, to absorb the increased costs of imported ingredients and goods. And although an increased national wage is welcome, the big supermarkets will need to absorb this operational charge as well as stretch their sliver thin margin to hold back the on-slaughter of manufacturers' increased costs. Hence, the affordability of the weekly shop will not be an easy one for the country’s struggling JAM (just about managing) social group, identified as most in need. During the next six months food inflation is expected to be around 5%, making an even tighter household budget for the JAMs and greater food poverty in the country. The need to curb food inflation is critical, as consumer spending is the barometer of economic stability. A few crumbs to the more marginal groups in society could have helped weather the storm, but instead, the country needs to brace itself for a slimmed-down grocery list and the opening of more food banks across the land.