The recent news that the Government may be looking at plans to introduce a price cap on basic food items has been dismissed by The British Retail Consortium.

Having had discussions with the supermarkets and suppliers in its recent Farm to Fork Summit Health Secretary, Steve Barclay said the Government was: “Having constructive discussions with supermarkets about how we work together, not about any element of compulsion.”

Director of food and sustainability at The British Retail Consortium, Andrew Opie was clear about the impact of such a move: “This will not make a jot of difference to prices. High food prices are a direct result of the soaring costs of energy, transport and labour, as well as higher prices paid to food manufacturers and farmers.”

He added: “As commodity prices drop, many of the costs keeping inflation high are now arising from the muddle of new regulation coming from Government.”

Asked directly by the BBC if Sainsbury’s was profiteering from the high rates of inflation its boss, Simon King said: “Absolutely not.” He continued: “We made less profit year-on-year and that’s because we made really conscious decisions to battle inflation and avoid passing all of the rising costs onto consumers.”

Drawing board stage

The Government’s proposed plans, first reported by The Daily Telegraph are said to be at a “drawing board stage.” If introduced the scheme is expected to follow a similar French model and supermarkets would be able to select which items to cap or freeze.

Asda’s chairman, Stuart Rose told the BBC that all the major retailers were: “Already competing very heavily with each other to give our customers the best possible deal” and were “well ahead of what the government can offer”‘

“Starting to try and manipulate markets or control markets is is not going to be effective. Be careful about what you wish for, be careful about the unintended consequences.”