Business Leaders Forum interview Adam Starkey

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Business leaders

The spectre of increased fuel prices is looming over the food industry and is set to disrupt consumer purchasing habits, according to Adam Starkey, managing director of public sector meals supplier Green Gourmet.

"Whenever you sit down and talk about the situation at the moment, there's this big bus coming towards us of increased fuel prices,"​ Starkey said at Food Manufacture​'s 2022 Business Leaders Forum (BLF), sponsored by Columbus.

"Increased prices in factories is bad enough, but it's the consumer who's going to be paying £20 more a week on their fuel bill and if there only spending £50-£75 on their food bill, this is a huge chunk. Maybe they can not buy the pizza or not go to the pub, but it's got to come off their food bill as well, so there's going to be huge price pressure just at the time when the industry says, 'our costs have gone up - let's put the prices up'.

"The pressure on costs is enormous. We may have had a contract with a supplier and then they are coming in and saying: 'force majeure'; we need to change that agreement we had a few months ago, because there has been a war."

Force majeure refers to a clause included in contracts to remove liability for unavoidable events that interrupt contracted business and stop participants from fulfilling their commitments.

Commenting on another topic that had been raised at the BLF: the food industry's perspective on trade deals that the UK Government had struck so far with countries outside the EU following Brexit and the prospects of future deals, Starkey said: "The food industry did say before Brexit that this wasn't going to help and that's been borne out. It's getting increasingly complicated to get food across that bit of water into France.

"The export of chilled food has dropped, or in some cases been removed completely just because of the danger that the lorry gets held up and that even goes for Northern Ireland as well, because they are operating the same rules as the rest of Europe."

Listen to the rest of this video to hear Starkey's views on the implications of the current import/export market situation and one of the positive highlights from this year's BLF.

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