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Scotland’s food and drink firms write to Liz Truss urging action on surging costs

© Markus Schreiberl/PA WirePrime Minister Liz Truss
Prime Minister Liz Truss

Scotland’s food and drink industry has written to Prime Minister Liz Truss urging her to introduce wide-ranging measures to ease the impact of surging prices while warning of job losses.

Scotland Food & Drink, the leadership body for the country’s £15 billion food and drink sector, represents 430 companies and organisations including those from the red meat, dairy, seafood, bakery and whisky industries.

It has urged the Prime Minister to consider a five-point plan to reduce costs for business and stimulate recovery. Interim chief executive John Davidson said jobs are under threat as manufacturers and processors across the supply chain face unprecedented rising costs.

“We simply can’t just keep absorbing these costs to keep prices down at the tills,” he said. “We are facing some very tough times over the next six months and although we don’t expect to see food shortages over winter, there is likely to be less choice on the shelves as producers cut back on their ranges and concentrate on core lines that are making a profit.”

The plan put to Truss includes a call to scrap the recent reduction in the number of vehicles allowed to use lower-taxed red diesel. It also urges her to pause the pay-back of government loans given to firms during the Covid pandemic, safeguard the supply of CO2 which is widely used in food packaging and has been put at risk by spiralling energy costs, and initiate a drive to attract new labour.

The body has also written to Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney asking for further support from Holyrood.

Scotland’s farmers say they are already cutting back on production as the cost of fertilisers and energy continue to rise, mainly driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Andrew Connon, vice president of the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, said: “We are trying everything we can to keep prices down for consumers but fertilisers and energy prices have trebled and prices for fuel and animal feed have doubled. This is crippling our businesses and will lead to food prices being even higher over the winter months than they already are. We urgently need support.”

The Scottish Government said: “Ministers are considering a number of ways to support businesses and this will involve factoring in any measures announced by the UK Government.”