UK food prices highest in western Europe


Oxfam's newly released food database has listed the UK as having the highest and most volatile food prices in Western Europe.

The database, which contains 125 countries, is called "Good Enough to Eat" and in a statement, Oxfam explained why they believe this is a timely development.

"The index comes at a time when one in eight people in the world go hungry despite there being enough to feed everyone, and highlights how distribution and prices are important factors," the development agency said.  

The index provides data on four basic factors: 

1. Do people have enough to eat? - Measured by levels of undernourishment and underweight children
2. Can people afford to eat? – Measured by food price levels compared to other goods and services and food price volatility
3. Is food of good quality? – Measured by diet diversification and access to clean and safe water
4. What are the health outcomes of people's diet? – Measured by diabetes and obesity.

Data is gathered from sources like the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation.

The Netherlands, followed by France and Switzerland in joint second are the best places for people to eat, according to the index.

Chad is the worst followed by Angola and Ethiopia, also in joint second-worst place. The UK comes in 13th best overall.

Hairy Biker chef Dave Myers has just returned from Cambodia, which is positioned 89th overall, where he visited some of Oxfam's projects helping to boost food security.

He said: "It's terrible to think that so many people go hungry in a world that produces more than enough. I have seen how Oxfam is bringing simple solutions to Cambodia to help farmers double rice production and make more from what they grow. All of this can change lives for good but a concerted global effort is needed if we are to end the shame of hunger which is clearly affecting people everywhere - even in the UK."

The UK is around the bottom in Western Europe in relation to whether citizens can afford to eat, sharing 20th position with Cyprus, and with only Austrians and Icelanders lower down the table. Globally, the situation is similar, with the UK ranked in the bottom half of all OECD countries on food price volatility.

Oxfam's Chief Executive Mark Goldring said in a statement: "This index lays bare some of the challenges that people face in getting the food they need - regardless of where they come from. It reveals how the world is failing to ensure that everyone is able to eat healthily, despite there being enough to go around.

"The UK's failure to make the top table is a shocking indictment for the world's sixth richest country. With a record number of people turning to food banks, the government must carry out an urgent inquiry into how welfare changes and cuts are exacerbating food poverty and deepening inequality."

Oxfam is demanding that the British government act to deal with the growing inequality and the underlying challenges that people are increasingly facing. Unemployment, low wages and rising food and fuel prices are creating a perfect storm of poverty. The charity's recommendation is an urgent government inquiry into the affect welfare changes and cuts are having.