Owner of Gunstones bakery in Dronfield warns of ‘major threat to food security’ due to war in Ukraine

The boss of a big Sheffield bakery has warned of hyper-inflation and a ‘major threat to food security’ due to the war in Ukraine.

Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 11:18 am

Ronald Kers, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, the UK’s largest private food producer, said prices could rocket 15 per cent by summer.

The ‘production clock it ticking’ and Ukrainian farmers should be sowing crops in March, instead they’re fighting for their country, he added.

If the war continued, the UK could experience a ‘major drop in supply’ of products like wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower oil.

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Ronald Kers, chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, the UK’s largest private food producer, said food prices could rocket to 15 per cent by summer. Photo credit: Dave Warren/Picture Team

2 Sisters owns Gunstones bakery in Dronfield which employs 600 people.

The warning comes during a cost of living crisis in UK due to inflation and record energy and petrol bills.

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Mr Kers said: “The events in Ukraine are an unimaginable tragedy and our hearts go out to those affected and to our Ukrainian colleagues and supply chain partners and their friends and relatives back home. It is an incredibly worrying time and we will do all we can to support them.

2 Sisters owns Gunstones bakery in Dronfield which employs 600 people.

“This conflict brings a major threat to food security in the UK and there is no doubt the outcome of this is that consumers will suffer as a result.

“War disrupts the free flow of trade and the impacts for us are severe. For example, the input costs of producing chicken – with feed being the biggest component – have rocketed. Prices from the farm gate have already risen by almost 50 per cent in a year.”

Before the war began, food inflation was forecast at four to five per cent by mid-2022, he added.

But it could now hit a ‘hyper-inflationary’ 10 to 15 per cent - more than for 50 years.

He said: “Our business is heavily dependent on a stable agricultural sector, but we cannot isolate ourselves from events abroad, even if Ukraine seems like a far away place. Commodities like animal feed and CO2 are vital for us.

“Our chicken doesn’t arrive on dinner tables without farmers. In fact, with no agriculture, there’s no business for us.

“Our concern is that a lot of people haven’t realised the food production clock is ticking. Ukrainian farmers should be sowing crops in March, instead they’re fighting for their country.

“If this war is not stopped now, the UK could experience a major drop in supply of products like wheat, barley, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower oil. So a European supply chain issue escalates to become a global commodity price crisis, and none of us can escape this.

“These pressures are piled on top of the acute inflationary environment we already have, and this is why we need cross-territorial collaboration food security strategies to bring some order amongst the chaos.

“The reality is companies like 2 Sisters trade globally, and the smooth flow of trade links between states are vital. Without measures to isolate states from food security risks, ultimately there will be less food and higher prices to pay, with the poorest in society hit hardest.”

The bakery, at Stubley Lane, Dronfield, is reportedly the largest producer of hot cross buns in the country.

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