29 March 2022

Now tedious nanny state bores want to crack down on cheap meat


There’s nothing like a cost-of-living crisis to expose the morally warped nature of nanny state campaigners. Prices have risen sharply across the board and the situation is set to get worse. The Bank of England expects inflation to reach around 8% and believes it could go even higher later in the year. This leaves low-income households struggling to pay their bills and get enough to eat.

Nevertheless, the ‘Eating Better’ campaign thinks now is an appropriate time to accuse Britain’s supermarkets of ‘bombarding’ shoppers with offers of cheap meat as if that were a bad thing. God forbid shoppers from poorer households might be able to afford some nutritious and protein rich meat to feed their families.

Better Eat, an umbrella group representing over 60 organisations including WWF UK, Greenpeace and various public health bodies, has criticised British supermarkets for not sticking to their pledge to promote more meat-free diets to improve health and tackle climate change. This is because those dastardly retail giants Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are offering a range of deals every week on meat products.

‘Supermarkets are bombarding us with Bogof [buy one, get one free] burgers, sausages and cheap chicken of unknown origin, putting profit before population health and that of the planet,’ said Simon Billing, Eating Better’s executive director.

Damn them to hell! Who will put a stop to this evil?

The Government is, as ever, on the side of the nanny statists who want to control our lives by hitting us in the bank balance. From October, it is set to go ahead with its ban on multi-buy food promotions and unlimited drink refills in restaurants.

Of course, this was never going to be enough for these fanatics. Eating Better’s new report complains that the clamp down on multi-buy offers only covers 1% of the hundreds of offers on meat products. The Government crackdown is meant to be about tackling childhood obesity. Yet here they are, trying to prevent supermarkets selling cheap meat and fish.

The report recommends including all ‘unhealthy meat and fish products in scope of the Food (Promotion and Placement) Regulation’ or at least including ‘all meat and fish products in scope of the Food (Promotion and Placement) Regulation, since increasing their consumption is undesirable from both an environmental and a health perspective’.

These products are ways of lower income households accessing cheap sources of protein and other nutrition and even, perish the thought, being able to have a little treat – some sausages or a burger, say – despite having to struggle through an economic crisis.

We are lucky in Britain to have fantastic supermarkets that offer a huge range of choice of products from all over the world, both healthy and unhealthy, in a highly competitive market that allows us to access cheaper food than we otherwise would.

An Asda spokesperson responded to the report by pointing out that they have ‘expanded our plant-based range by 50% in the past year and committed to doubling sales from plant-based products by 2023’.

A Sainsbury’s spokeperson said: ‘We aim to make a healthy and varied diet accessible to everyone [and are] investing significantly in keeping prices low on products such as fruit, veg, grains, meat and fish’.

The supermarkets do, in fact, offer a huge range of vegetarian, vegan and healthy products, but they give consumers choice. They are the good guys here, not the campaigners trying to tell us what we can or cannot eat who want to increase the cost of our weekly shop. The Government must realise that if you give these fanatics an inch, they will take a mile and complain they didn’t get more.

It’s unlikely the Government will implement the report’s recommendations, it will rightly fear a backlash in the current climate, especially as it implements tax rises and real-terms benefit cuts. It should really get a backbone and delay or abandon its woefully misguided restriction on volume-based promotions of high fat sugar and salt products that will deliberately increase the cost of living further.

Sadly, a U-turn on this is unlikely. They fear the public health lobby and will choose instead to hit consumers in the pocket, especially those with low incomes who hunt for bargains. Instead, we must rely on our supermarket chains to work around state coercion and look at other ways of competing, by lowering other prices or offering multi-buy deals on a temporary basis to get around the ban. God bless them all, and God bless capitalism!

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Ben Kelly is a freelance journalist. He blogs at thescepticisle.co.uk

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.