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28th Jul 2022

Supermac’s boss warns of food shortages this winter, urges public to stock up

Dave Hanratty

Food shortages winter

“Everybody has to adapt to the new situation and deal with it.”

As you’re well aware by now, we are presently in the midst of a cost of living crisis, to the point that this year’s forthcoming Budget will pretty much be themed around this sorry state of affairs.

Winter is indeed coming and it doesn’t look terrifically promising, to be honest. How’s about this for a grim omen? You should maybe think about stocking up on long-lasting food.

That’s not my advice, necessarily, but that of Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh, who was speaking on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder programme on Wednesday evening.

Asked about the cost of living, the cost of doing business and the overall temperature of the industry at the moment, McDonagh pointed to the knock-on effect of inflation on power, electricity, labour, materials and food.

“There are huge costs,” he said. “What I would be concerned about, personally, though – disposable income is going to tight into the autumn and winter. You relate those extra costs to the household and there is going to be less and less disposable income.

“[The cost of] food is going to continue to grow,” McDonagh added. “The cost of beef to ourselves has gone up nearly 40%. Likewise, with chicken and likewise with other food products. So yeah, there is going to be, as I say, a challenge for the winter.

“But look – everybody has to get through it, everybody has to adapt to the new situation and deal with it. It will level itself out. I would be concerned, though, in one sense that there could be a little bit of scarcity of food towards the end of the winter up towards the end of December. It has a massive knock-on effect across the whole world.”

Put to him that food inflation represents “a whole different ball game” for the average person on the street in terms of making ends meet, McDonagh advised:

“Absolutely. I would be recommending people buy long-life food earlier on. I do honestly think that. We’re all talking about reducing carbon gases, et cetera – but there’s a scarcity of food worldwide. Prices of, say, cooking oil, has nearly doubled in the last six months because most of it comes from the sunflower that’s grown in Ukraine, and rapeseed, et cetera.

“That has doubled. That is not being produced in a lot of cases this year because farmers are pretty much kind of at a standstill out there. Then the cost of fertiliser for farmers – farmers didn’t fertilise this year. I think you’ll have a lowering of the food productivity in this country as well for the autumn.”

Asked about how the country can respond to planned public sector worker strikes, McDonagh – who previously faced criticism for saying that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment “caused people to get a bit lazy” and for the amount of money on offer for Supermac’s employees – noted that he’s “not really an economist” as he looked ahead to the future.

“People have to live so they have to get a decent wage to keep them… [the] cost of accommodation is again going through the roof.”

Featured Image of Pat McDonagh via David Maher / Sportsfile

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