Foodbank users are declining potatoes due to the high energy costs required to cook them, Iceland managing director Richard Walker revealed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
Ahead of the chancellor’s spring statement, Walker urged the government to “rightly focus on the consumer” as 1000 of the discount retailer’s stores are situated in the “poorest communities in the UK”.
Walker explained the “cost-of-living crisis was the single most important domestic issue that we’re facing as a country and it is incredibly concerning”.
On top of this, Walker asked for the government to support businesses that were being forced to increase prices in order to accommodate for growing input costs.
Economists forecast that inflation will rise to 8.3% in April, above the Bank of England’s original prediction of 7%.
However, Walker asserted that food inflation was actually “pushing 10%” and was actually higher for items such as milk due to the higher production costs.
The Iceland director added that “pressure is relentless” and “coming at all angles”, complicating the retailer’s ability to match rising food prices to wages.
As a result, Walker suggested Rishi Sunak implement an energy price cap on businesses, paid by a potential windfall tax on the soaring profits of energy companies.
“Systemically, if you look at it you could argue food has been too cheap for too long but [price increases] have to be matched in wages and productivity and everything in between,” Walker said.
“We are doing everything we can, our customers are depending on us for that value, but of course, the pressure is relentless and coming at us from all angles at the moment. We are not an endless sponge that can soak it all up.”