// Sainsbury’s ex-boss Justin King warns of rising food prices amid inflation
// King said Sainsbury’s cannot be expected to protect shoppers from the rising prices
Sainsbury’s former boss Justin King has warned that households should be prepared for higher grocery bills as the “golden era” of cheap food is coming to an end.
King said the grocer could not be expected to protect shoppers from rising food prices.
Sainsbury’s reported a doubling in its annual pre-tax profits to £730 million.
“The headline profit numbers are of course large in the context of any household budget,” King told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But the margins in supermarkets are around 3%. So even if supermarkets made no profits at all, they wouldn’t really be able to make a huge dent in the cost inflation that is coming through the system,” he said.
King, who is a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer, said the soaring inflation has worsened the cost-of-living.
The Bank of England said last week inflation was likely to exceed 10% this year, the highest since 1982.
“We have been perhaps through a golden era. We spend much less as a proportion on average of our household budgets on food than we had almost any time in history, and that’s been on a long, gentle decline,” King said.
“So I suspect what we will see is a higher proportion, across the piece, spent on food for the longer term.
“It won’t actually be that high in historical terms but it will require adjustments in terms of how we all prioritise our family budget spending.”
He added that the government should step in with targeted funding through benefits to support struggling households.
He said the decision to introduce a £20 a week uplift on universal credit during the Covid crisis could be a model for extra assistance.