Tackling cost price inflation at NFU Conference

16 February 2022

Horticulture and potatoes
A picture of horticulture and potatoes board chair Ali Capper, pictured at the ICC in Birmingham during NFU Conference

Attending this year's horticulture and potatoes breakout session at NFU Conference is a must for members dealing with escalating costs. Board chair Ali Capper explains why. 

Absorbing costs effectively

If you are at NFU Conference this year, you can’t afford to miss out on the horticulture and potatoes breakout session on day 1. We will be focussing on the one issue that is affecting every business across the sector; sharply rising costs of energy, packaging, labour, agricultural chemicals, and more.

We have an excellent panel of speakers who will look at the challenges and begin to identify what growers can do to pass these costs on. I know as well as anyone how difficult passing cost onto our customers can be, especially if you’re dealing with powerful retailers and processors.

But cost price inflation is not a negotiation. It is a simple state of fact that costs are rising and suppliers cannot absorb them on their own.

Insights from industry

I attended the excellent Cost Price Inflation workshop at NFU Headquarters earlier this week, organised by the NFU and led by David Miles of The Retail Mind. David, alongside his partner Ged Futter, gave us some fantastic insights into the pressures and motivations of buyers and the tools needed to successfully pass on cost price increases.

The feedback from the NFU members that attended was incredibly positive and we will certainly look to put on more workshops in the coming weeks and months.

There is no silver bullet, and discussions with buyers, particularly midway through a contract term, will never be easy. But they can be successful, and for the sake of our industry, they must.

Meet our Conference speakers

David Miles will be one of the speakers in our breakout session at Conference and I know you will benefit from what he has to say on this critical issue.

Alongside David, we welcome Tim Lock from the dairy sector. Tim chairs the M&S Milk Pool, a collaboration between dairy farmers and the retailer, and will explain how their relationship works and how the industry copes with being a loss leading commodity.

It will be interesting to see where the differences and similarities between our sectors lie, and will give us a different perspective on how we engage with our own customers.

We also have Alastair Heath, a potato grower and member of both the NFU next generation forum and NFU potato forum. He’ll talk about the cost pressures in the sector and, importantly, how it is impacting on the next generation of growers.

Can't attend? Watch online

In my last Conference as NFU horticulture and potatoes board chair, I will be giving an update on current issues being faced by the board. NFU chief horticulture adviser Lee Abbey will be chairing the session.

Please do come along to the horticulture and potatoes breakout session. I’ve no doubt the discussion will give you lots of room for thought and a few useful ideas on how to manage these painful cost increases. 

And remember, you can watch all the main coverage from Conference live on the website and find out what was discussed in our breakouts in our Conference coverage. 

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