Covid-19 commentary: Do we really need crisps & cream cakes?

Do we really need crisps and cream cakes? Nope, and shopping behaviours over the last week or two have reflected this.

Sales of nutritious food, notably fresh fruit and veg, are up, while sales of crisps, chocolate (including Easter eggs) and the like are down. Whether or not this is a permanent shift, who knows?

What it does demonstrate, however, is that the population as a whole gets what a good, healthy diet is.

Three points, all made to me by several informants over the last few days:

  • Should the likes of PepsiCo, owners of Walkers crisps, be classed as a ‘food’ producer?
    • Could their facilities and processes be utilised over the coming weeks to produce healthy food stuffs?
    • Ditto confectioners and others with product lines than carry standard-rate VAT.
      • For those readers unfamiliar with our work on the so-called ‘drug-foods’, all of which carry standard-rate VAT (c.f. zero-rate on ‘proper’ food); see this blogpost supporting our Submission to the National Food Strategy Call for Evidence, Drug foods and their specific risks to the food supply system.
  • One informant, familiar with the processes involved in the manufacture of cream cakes, said this to me:
    • Given that the consumption of cream cakes isn’t necessary:
      • As with Walkers crisps, their facilities could be reconfigured to produce more nutritious food
      • And their second-to-none expertise in hygiene, plus personal protection equipment (PPE) could well be of use to others.
  • The Government is going to have to step up to the mark regarding their responsibility to ensure everyone in the UK has access to sufficient supplies of safe, nutritious food, as we stated hadn’t happened; see the first point in our first blogpost in this Covid-19 series.



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