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Food for Thought.

In a recent survey of supermarket shoppers 4 out of 10 people reported they were concerned about the cost of food. A concern which in recent years has seen a rise in the number of discounted retailers, most recently 'Jacks' a 'value-orientated' chain' launched by Tesco.

Statistically, Britons only spend an average on 8% of their total household income on food to eat at home. This is lower than any other country apart from the US and Singapore according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. The food consumed in the UK is also the cheapest in Western Europe costing 8% less than the EU average. It is also much cheaper in relative terms than the food bought by our parents and grandparents.

However it is unlikely that this era of low cost food will continue. One major factor is the weather. This year the UK saw extreme weather conditions, from the snow brought by the Beast from the East to the summer heatwave. This combination caused lower than usual crop yields, resulting in higher prices. Episodes like this my be rare in the UK but most scientists agree that international weather patterns are becoming more extreme. If droughts and floods become more frequent, this is likely to boost global food prices.

Around half of all the food eaten in the UK is imported, with 30% coming from the EU. The fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit Referendum has made these imports more expensive. Speculation that supplies could be disrupted immediately after Brexit and duties on EU imports increased could also lead to a rise in prices. 

Nobody knows for certain what effect Brexit will have on food prices, but with so much of the population suffering from obesity with all the associated health risks, maybe a little less choice and a higher cost might not be all bad.  In the words of Mercedes Formula 1 boss, Toto Wolff, following his decision to impose team orders for Valteri Bottas to hand victory to team mate Lewis Hamilton in the Russian Grand Prix, 'You need to weigh it up'