image Am I the only shopper who has noticed that shelves in supermarket stores are not as plentiful as they used to be? In the last few weeks when I’ve popped into Tesco, it’s almost like the pre-Christmas rush has taken place, there are lots of unfilled spaces on the shelves.

I’ve just read that one of the UK’s biggest meat processing companies has been forced to close a factory blaming soaring food inflation, and 450 people have lost their jobs.

Faccenda Group, the second-biggest chicken processing company in Britain, said it had been hit by the rocketing cost of wheat – a key ingredient in chicken feed – which has more than doubled in the past year.

And there are also reports that some some retail chains are stockpiling goods, afraid that their suppliers will go bust due to rising prices.

One of the UK’s largest cash-and-carry chains has increased the volume of vegetable oil and rice that it holds in its warehouses and is understood to have spent £10 million on extra stock. How long before other outlets follow suit, spreading panic?

Stockpiling promotes fear and greed, the instinct for self-survival kicks in, of caring for your own, it can bring out the worst in people’s natures.

Meanwhile, I met someone today who told me about the fresh produce he grows on his allotment, how he thinks more of us will want to be self-sufficient in the future and enjoy our locallyimage grown food, a kind of Good Life scenario, that we are going full circle back to our natural roots.

It’s an idea which is rapidly growing in appeal, with villagers in Hampshire turning their backs against supermarkets and growing their own produce, as well as rearing their own chickens. So far, 101 families have signed up for their community allotment scheme. I would sign up without hesitation if it was operating in my area, I think it is a great idea. In fact, I have emailed the link with this story to one of my parish councillors suggesting we start a similar scheme in our village as many of our allotments are standing idle.

While we are fortunate that we can still consider ourselves the land of the plenty – for now – how much longer will that last?

Update 22 April:  Gordon Brown is today meeting food producers, retailers and consumers today to deal with the growing world food crisis.