Capitalist crisis drives food prices higher

Thea Everett, South East London Socialist Party

Nobody should go hungry. But in Britain, in 2022, well over two million people rely on food banks and food sharing apps like ‘Olio’ to feed themselves and their families. The current economic crisis is seeing the cost of food rise at its fastest rate since 2008.

The capitalist food system is in deep crisis, with climate change war  and trade conflicts disrupting supplies. The price of food is rising by 12.1% a year, putting millions more on the bread line this autumn.

‘New normal’

It isn’t luxuries that are going up in price but basic items that we all rely on: oil, butter, bread, milk and pasta. Some prices are rising by as much as 50%. The rising cost of energy has had a knock-on effect on food and drink inflation. Food production, transport and storage costs are up. And, in Britain, where 40% of food and drink is imported, the falling value of the pound drives prices higher.

Meanwhile, TV programmes show us how to cook meals in the microwave because using the oven has become unaffordable, as if this is a normal state of affairs that we should all accept!

The global food industry is valued at $8 trillion dollars, with two of the world’s top five employers being Walmart and McDonalds, and a third of the world’s workforce is employed in agriculture. But from farmers through to food producers, and service, hospitality and retail workers, many of the people whose labour produces the food we eat are barely paid enough to survive on it themselves.

Socialists supports strikes for pay rises, and demand an immediate increase in the minimum wage to £15 an hour, as well as increases to benefits and pensions, so that people do not continue to go hungry.

We demand councils use their powers to make free school meals available to all children who need them, and to fund food banks, so that the nation’s health is not reliant on people’s good will.

The right to food should be fundamental. But the capitalist system we live squeezes wages and raises prices, all in the interest of profit. Join us in campaigning for socialist change: for public ownership of the energy and food companies that are still raking in profits while we struggle to afford three meals a day. It doesn’t have to be like this!