Current pressures on food supply chains are associated with higher food prices but the extent of the pass-through to consumers will depend on how competition in the retail food sector. This contribution summarizes insights from recent research, a key feature of which is the use of large data on prices across retail food chains which forms the basis for a better understanding of competition in this sector. In addition to the focus on consumers, the contribution also points to concerns about how the retail sector may impact on suppliers with weak bargaining power a t the other end of the food supply chain. 

By Steve McCorriston1



In recent months, we have witnessed considerable pressure on food chains across many countries, these pressures emanating from a number of sources, both domestic and international. COVID-19 has had an obvious impact, most notably through logistics and labor shortages. Simultaneously, world commodity prices have increased; between September 2020 and 2021, the FAO food price index has increased by over 30 per cent. These changes have been reflected in higher domestic retail food prices, with food inflation exceeding headline inflation with particularly high food inflation recorded in developing and emerging economies. With these shocks to the food sector, attention turns to the functioning of food chains and how these shocks impact on consumers, an issue of particular concern to politicians given the regressive nature of


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