Unite press release


For immediate release: Tuesday 28 March 2023

Food prices: The British public are hostages to ‘greedflation’.

Greedflation is where large corporations have fuelled inflation by excessive profiteering

Supermarket price inflation in the UK has hit a record high, adding £837 to annual household bills according to market analysts Kantar.

New Unite research, analysing the FTSE 350 shows how profit margins for the first half of 2022 were 89% higher compared to the same period in 2019 (see also notes to editors).

Commenting on the crisis which is being made worse by profiteering, Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “Despite the rise in wholesale prices, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda still managed to increase their profits by an astonishing 97% in 2021. At the same time the 8 top UK food manufacturers made profits of £22.9 billion. Profiteering is happening right along the food supply chain and workers are paying the price.

“It’s more evidence that the British public are hostage to greedflation . It’s time our elected leaders and policy makers woke up to corporate greed and challenged it head on.”


Notes to editors

Profiteering Report Briefing: March 2023

In 2022 the profits of the 350 largest companies in Britain have increased by 89%* compared to 2019 pre pandemic levels - the money is there to pay workers what they are owed. Taking on profiteering ends the false choice of pay rises or austerity. (FTSE 350 companies: 2019 to the first half of 2022.)

Industry examples: Unite Investigates analysed the industries which together have the biggest impact on inflation to find evidence of significant profit increases since the pandemic



Profit increase

Big 8 Shipping firms


Oil refineries (profits per barrel)


Food (Agribusiness)


Big 4’ Energy




Profit increase

Food (Supermarkets)

The top three supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda – between them sell over half the UK’s groceries. They made combined profits of £3.2 billion in 2021, nearly double pre-pandemic levels.

Food (Manufacturing)

Eight of the UK’s top food manufacturers made a combined profit of £22.9 billion, up 21% since before the pandemic.


(Associated British Foods, Hilton Food Group, Arla Foods, Unilever, Cranswick, , Mondelez UK, Bakkavor, Nestle)

Food (Agribusiness)

The four giant agribusiness corporations - ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus - dominate key commodities. They made $10.4 billion, up 255%.

Energy (Networks)

The UK’s electricity and gas grids are run by private monopolies which made a combined profit of £6.3 billion – with operating margins over 40%. Companies include National Grid, UK Power Networks, SSE, Cadent Gas

Energy (Generators and Suppliers)

The top four energy providers made combined profits of £9.5 billion, up 84% on 2019. (Centrica, E.ON, EDF and Scottish Power)

Oil and Gas

The top global oil companies made £174.5 billion in 2021, 37% higher than before the pandemic. (Includes, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, Saudi Aramco.)


Profits per barrel jumped 366% between June 2021 and June 2022

(Includes, Exxon Mobil, Valero, State Oil Limited, Phillips 66, Essar, Petroineos Refining Limited)

Transport Logistics

The UK’s top 100 road freight companies jumped up, on average, 67% compared to before the pandemic.

(Includes Deutsche Post AG (DHL), Wincanton, XPO, Fed Ex, UPS)

Container Shipping

8 big companies made a combined £62 billion in profit, up 20,650%. (Includes Maersk, CMA, Cosco, Hapag-Lloyd, Evergreen.)


Four of the major port companies reported profit margins between 11% and 24%

(Peel Ports, DP World, Hutchison Ports, APB)


The top ten producers of semiconductors made a combined profit of £44 billion – up 96% compared to 2019.

(Includes BMW, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Samsung)



Contact: Ciaran Naidoo 07768 931 315

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Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.