DEFRA minister George Eustice has urged families to buy cheaper alternatives to help “manage” household budgets amid the cost of living crisis.
Although Eustice admitted that rising prices in the supermarket would “undoubtedly put pressure” on budgets, he claimed this could be mitigated by choosing “value brands” over “branded products”.
“Generally speaking, what people find is by going for some sort of value brand rather than own branded products they can actually contain and manage their household budget,” Eustice said to Sky News.
The news comes as the CPI for food has increased to 5.9%, the highest since December 2011.
The Conservative minister also argued there was a “very, very competitive retail market with 10 big supermarkets and the four main ones competing very aggressively, particularly on some of the lower-cost, everyday value items for households, so things like spaghetti and ambient products – there’s a lot of competition to keep those prices down”.
He explained that things got “harder” with chicken, poultry and some fresh produce where rising costs of feed end up “passed through the system because these people work on wafer-thin margins and they have to pass that cost through.”
On top of this, Eustice said the household spending on food in the UK was the “lowest in Europe” despite families having to choose between food and rent.
In response to his comments, shadow Treasury minister Pat McFadden said Eustice was “woefully out of touch from a government with no solution to the cost-of-living crisis facing working people”.
McFadden added: “People are seeing their wages fall, fuel and food costs rise, and families are worried about how to make ends meet.”
“It’s time for the government to get real help to people rather than comments that simply expose how little they understand about the real struggles people are facing to pay their bills.”