Supermarkets warn against panic buying over ‘project fear’ push for Brits to stockpile three days’ worth of food

23 May 2024, 10:19

Don't 'panic buy' your emergency stockpile, supermarkets urge Brits
Don't 'panic buy' your emergency stockpile, supermarkets urge Brits. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Supermarkets are warning Brits not to panic buy food after the Government urged people to have three days’ worth of supplies stockpiled in case of emergency.

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The Government launched a website telling people to keep tinned food and bottled water in the case of an emergency.

The emergency kits people should keep at home includes wind-up torches, at least three litres of bottled water, and food that doesn’t need cooking such as tinned meat or vegetables.

But retailers have warned shoppers should build up supplies over time rather than go to the supermarket and stock up all at once.

Read more: Full list of items Brits are being urged to stockpile in case of national emergency

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said: “Retailers did an excellent job ensuring the country had access to food and other necessities throughout the pandemic, and we are confident they will rise to future challenges.

“While it is sensible to have some additional food at home, most households will find they already have sufficient non-perishables sitting in the cupboard.”

The plans have been labelled "another example of project fear" by critics.

Households are being urged to stockpile emergency supplies to survive for 72 hours without help, in preparation for potential national crises.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden launched the "Prepare Campaign" at the London Defence Conference, aimed at significantly boosting the country's resilience planning.

Mr Dowden argues that homes need to become self-sufficient in case of emergencies like floods, power outages, cyber-attacks or war.

The campaign comes after a new poll found alarming levels of unpreparedness among the British public.

Polling shows more than 40 per cent of people do not have three days’ supplies of non-perishable food and water and just 15 per cent have an emergency supply kit in their homes.

Read more: Rain and thunderstorms to bring flooding and travel disruption across UK as Met Office issues amber weather warnings

Read more: UK inflation falls to 2.3% in April but Jeremy Hunt warns 'cost of living crisis not over'

Mr Dowden has told reporters he is personally prepared for an emergency
Mr Dowden has told reporters he is personally prepared for an emergency. Picture: Alamy

In previewing the initiative, Mr Dowden specifically cited flooding risks to highlight the importance of stocking up.

The Deputy Prime Minister framed the campaign as easing burdens on the government during crises.

He also claimed to be personally prepared, stating: "I can assure you that we've got plenty of resilience in the cupboards and we've got some water in the shed. And we've got some better battery-powered torches."

The most common risk is localised flooding, according to the government’s risk register, leading to power and water outages. But among the 100 other potential threats people should be prepared for include another pandemic, a mass cyberattack that cuts off the internet, disruption to UK space systems that affect GPS signals — or, in an extreme case, could include conflict or even the potential for a nuclear attack in continental Europe.

Speaking to journalists before the launch of the new website, Dowden said flooding was the most common risk likely to be encountered by members of the public and highlighted how stocking up household cupboards would help.

“Localised flooding can lead to power outages and it can lead to water disruption,” Dowden said. “If you think about it, the time it takes a flood to recede, if you’re resilient for three days in simple terms, you’re not going to be worried about getting down to the shops in that period.”

Dowden added: “Every additional person that takes steps to make themselves resilient means that when a crisis hits, the government can focus more on the people that aren’t ready and aren’t resilient.”

The most common risk is localised flooding, according to the government’s risk register, leading to power and water outages.
The most common risk is localised flooding, according to the government’s risk register, leading to power and water outages. Picture: Alamy

What should you have in an emergency home kit?

  • A list of emergency contact numbers. This should be a paper copy, in case your mobile phone loses power.
  • A battery-operated torch and spare batteries, or a wind-up torch.
  • Battery-operated radio and spare batteries, or a wind-up radio.
  • Any essential medication and a first aid kit.
  • Three days’ supply of bottled water and ready-to-eat food that won’t go off.
  • Copies of important documents, such as insurance policies and birth certificates. Keep these in a waterproof bag.
  • Pencil, paper, penknife and whistle.
  • Spare keys to your home and car.
  • Spare glasses or contact lenses.
  • Baby and pet supplies if needed.

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