Scottish consumers may have to pay more for food if the country becomes independent as senior executives mull price rises.
Representatives from three of the Big Four supermarkets said they currently subsidise the extra costs of trading in Scotland into their operations in the UK. But they have privately discussed stopping this if the country votes for independence next year, according to the Financial Times.
One supermarket executive said they would treat Scotland as an “international market and act accordingly by putting up our prices”. “The costs of distribution are much higher in Scotland but at the moment that gets absorbed by the UK business,” the executive said.
It is more expensive for supermarkets to trade in Scotland due to higher transport costs and higher business rates for companies that sell alcohol and cigarettes. But at the moment, the supermarkets work on a “national pricing” policy which means the cost is absorbed by the rest of the UK.
Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said that at the moment the prices are the same despite widely varying operating costs in different parts of the country.
But he said if the nation does vote for independence it “could result in Scotland being a less attractive investment proposition for business, and put further pressure on our costs”.
But a spokesperson for the Scottish Government denied that there would be any reason for food prices to rise, adding that plans for independence include a lower corporation tax and fuel duty.