The new tax, which is due to come into effect on October 1, is a result of the government’s controversial plan to introduce VAT on food that is sold hot, classifying it as takeaway food.
After an outcry over the price increase this would cause for freshly cooked pasties and pies, the plans were amended so that hot food left on the shelf to cool down would have a 0% VAT rate.
But, this will not affect rotisserie chickens which, for food safety reasons, cannot be left to cool down in the same way.
The British Poultry Council (BPC) and Morrisons argue the tax is unfair because it will hit cash-strapped shoppers who use rotisserie chickens in their family meals.
They say research shows that people do not purchase a whole rotisserie chicken to eat in the same way as they would a take-away meal.
More than 80% of Morrisons’ shoppers purchase their rotisserie chicken to eat later. They also add other foods such as potatoes or vegetables to make a main meal, like the traditional Sunday roast.
This has prompted the BPC and the retailer to join forces in a campaign with the slogan ‘Don’t Tax Our Roast’.
People will be encouraged to sign a petition against the tax by text, online, or by using a freepost reply card available at rotisserie chicken counters at Morrisons stores. Signage and customer information at Morrisons rotisserie chicken counters will also be used to raise awareness of the impact of the new tax.
BPC members − including Moy Park and Cargill, which supply Morrisons − argue the new tax will disadvantage British food producers. BPC chief executive Peter Bradnock said: “This 20% tax hike in the price of Red Tractor chicken from British farms bought freshly-cooked in the supermarkets will hit shoppers and result in lost production for farmers.
“It is a sad irony that this 20% VAT tax will not apply to imports of already-cooked chicken meat coming from countries like Thailand. Our government is now making it even harder for British chicken farmers to compete on our own markets.”
Jamie Winter, fresh food director at Morrisons, said: “It’s unfair to take a ‘catch all’ approach without accepting that there will almost always be important exceptions.
“The simple fact is that our customers buy their whole rotisserie chicken as part of their weekly shop, not as a takeaway.”
To read how Britain’s biggest high street baker Greggs played a key role forcing a government u-turn on pasty tax, click here .