Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Food Prices In An Independent Scotland
Before I go dashing up the A9 to visit the Highland Chocolatier’s hideaway in Grandtully, I wondered if many of you have noticed the latex propaganda oozing out of the No camp’s cupboards?
Even the BBC’s in on the act, although Mr Peston has been fairly reasonable in his musings.
Now it can’t be a surprise to anyone that, if we vote Yes, then your bag of McCains chips or Melton Mowbray pork pie is going to cost so much more. Horrors! I’m quivering in my slippers at the very thought.
According to Peston and others, ‘big business’ doesn’t want to invest in an independent small country. Does that mean we’ll finally be free of the awful Tesco? If so then that’s enough to sway many floating voters to the positive.
Of course ‘big business’ know full well that they’ve been overcharging in their Scottish supermarkets for years. When I returned home 20 years ago the cost of my weekly food shopping was very noticeable and was at least 25% more than I paid when I lived in Shropshire. Roll out the excuse; ‘transport costs’. Indeed, for some foods the cost of transporting from their (mainly) south of England distribution depots is obviously higher to Perth than it is to Salisbury, but what happens when they charge 25 -40% more for Scottish produce.
Where I live is was once upon a time the European centre for soft fruit. As a child I picked raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants in order to increase my meagre pocket money. Today the best raspberries still come from this area, yet some supermarkets charged 30% more than they were charging in some English stores for selling them in one of their stores just 5 miles from where they were picked. Why? The same old chestnut - transport costs.
In Scotland, over the years, farmers have been discouraged from growing vegetables so it can be difficult to find local produce, but it is there and it’s far fresher and usually slightly cheaper than supermarket vegetables which have been flown half way round the world. As many regular readers will know, a couple of years ago I stopped buying produce that had been on an aircraft for more than a couple of hours and I’m still here. Yes I miss asparagus when the local farm has a bad year (as it did this summer), but it’s not a vital part of my diet and I prefer to give the asparagus from Peru a miss.
When we’re independent our farmers will have to alter some of their priorities and return to producing food for the country. We may be lucky enough to see the introduction of a Scottish supermarket chain like the old Wm Lows which provided a very good range of Scottish foods.
I don’t think the cost of our food will be any higher than it is now and hopefully the unsubstantiated threat from the No campaign will help us focus our minds on ensuring that if we buy local we’re keeping prices within our own control.
Now I must leave you. Some chocolate covered cherries, sitting on a shelf in Grandtully, have my name on them. I don’t really have a sweet tooth but these are divine and because I want to buy some gifts, they will be my reward for going!