IGD's Big Debate Conference

Retailing competition could reduce Brexit cost impacts

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The food sector is so competitive that price wars between retailers may reduce the financial impact of Brexit on shoppers, said grocery think-tank IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch.

Shoppers will be in control of any price increases associated with Brexit, Denney-Finch added in this exclusive interview.

It’s such a competitive arena that even if there are price increases through imports, I think that for a period of time it will be muted because of that competitive dynamic,” Denney-Finch told FoodManufacture.co.uk after speaking at IGD’s Big Debate conference on October 18.

‘Shoppers will decide’

“I think another thing is that if some products did become more expensive, shoppers who create markets will decide whether those products still offer value for money, or if they’d prefer to substitute for other products.”

While the cost of imports is expected to increase, retailers could source products from around the world to mitigate some of those additional costs, she explained.

Meanwhile, Unilever raised its product prices on October 13, including Marmite, PG Tips and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Tesco refused the price hike, and temporarily removed the manufacturer’s products from its online shop. The dispute was resolved that evening, both parties confirmed.

A week later, confectionery giant Nestlé said it may also raise its product prices as a response to cutting its annual growth forecast from 4.3% to 3.5%, due to deflation.


How the row between Unilever and Tesco was reported:
  • The Guardian: Brand power ‘favours Unilever in row over UK-produced Marmite’
  • Daily Telegraph: Tesco pulls Marmite from online store amid Brexit price row with Unilever
  • Financial Times: Tesco pulls products over plunging pound
  • The Independent: Brexit hits supermarkets for first time as pound slump sparks Tesco­-Unilever row
  • Daily Mirror: Tesco withdraw Marmite, PG Tips, Flora, Ben & Jerry’s and dozens more household brands from shelves in Brexit price war
  • Daily Mail: Consumers ‘face Brexit price hikes’ following Unilever and Tesco row

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