Co-op chief warns food prices are 'edging up' in wake of Brexit uncertainty

PUBLISHED: 12:16 14 April 2019

Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show (Pic: BBC)

Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show (Pic: BBC)

BBC

The chief executive of Co-op is calling on the government for more certainty about leaving the EU as food prices start to rise.

In February environment secretary and arch Brexiteer Michael Gove admitted that there was a risk prices could increase with additional costs on production in the UK in event of a no-deal Brexit.

Now, speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, Steve Murrells, chief executive of the Co-op, said food prices had already started to rise.

He said: “I think we’re starting to see food prices edge up a little as the pound devalues.

“That’s more likely to carry on so I don’t see deflation coming in, if anything I see it slightly moving upwards.

“As a retailer we’ve got to make that balance between trying to absorb some of that inflation but also making sure that we do the right thing by suppliers and also making sure we pass on as little as we can to the consumer.”

Mr Murrells told Marr that he was glad we hadn’t yet “crashed out” of the EU but that certainty was still a major concern.

He said: “Until that certainty comes then we will continue to plan for all eventualities.

“We’re spending enough money to make sure that we give customers the best availability that we can possibly provide in the event of a no-deal.

“But there is no doubt that we don’t produce everything we need in this country and therefore we’ll have to be smart about the way we substitute using canned grocery items to possibly replace some fresh items.”

Food prices are not the only issue concerning the chief executive, as Mr Murrells called on Theresa May and Parliament to also address other industries which could be impacted.

“I would ask them to maybe spike a little bit of cooperation but also focus on these other social issues,” he said.

“I worry about health, I worry about education, I worry about people sleeping rough.

“Those are things that my members talk to me about, so I encourage politicians and society to start facing some of those things as well as the Brexit conversation.”

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