xi's moments
Home | Europe

Hunger risk looms in UK amid energy concerns

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-13 06:46

Signage is seen on food shelves inside a Sainsbury's supermarket in Richmond, west London, Britain, June 27, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Many Britons could go hungry this winter if feared power outages eventuate and the producers of milk, meat, and other staples fail to find alternative energy supplies.

The worrying prediction suggests blackouts could hit mechanized producers, such as dairy farmers that use automated milking machines, and big energy consumers, such as market gardeners that rely on heated greenhouses.

The problem is so worrying that the United Kingdom government has already begun contingency planning with the food industry, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

Ian Wright, co-chair of the Food and Drink Sector Council, a partnership between the government and the industry, told the newspaper: "It all depends on the nature of the blackouts but some rely on 24-hour production and can't just stop and start the process. Milking cows, for example, is a continuous process. There is a risk that the cows become overburdened."

Wright, a former chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said cows become ill if they are not milked regularly and farmers may be forced to slaughter herds as a result.

A government spokesman told reporters a winter blackout is not expected but confirmed ministers have begun planning for such an eventuality.

"This is not something we expect to happen," he said. "The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain...and we engage extensively with stakeholders across the whole food supply chain to ensure we are ready for all eventualities, even the ones we don't expect to happen."

The prospect of blackouts hitting the UK's energy grid this winter was raised by analysts who noted outages could happen in January because of energy shortages created by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and anticipated extra-cold temperatures.

The scarcity of energy supplies has pushed up the cost of fuel and driven up energy bills, with the annual cost of heating a home expected to rise to more than 4,400 pounds ($5,370) by next April. In January, the annualized cost stood at 1,277 pounds.

The high price of energy has helped drive rampant inflation in the UK, which is likely to hit 13 percent by the end of the year.

The situation prompted consumer advocate Martin Lewis, from the Money Saving Expert website, to describe the situation this past week as "a national crisis".

The BBC reported that a survey by comparison website Uswitch shows many households are already falling behind on their energy bill payments as a result.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349