Stockpiling and hoa...

Stockpiling and hoarding in WW2  

Environmentalist Admin

Over recent weeks I have seen articles in mainstream media (e.g. New Statesman) complaining that stockpiling is morally reprehensible, and referring to the people prosecuted for food hoarding during WW2 as examples.

So this morning I have been for a trip in the newspaper archives, and this is what I have found.

In 1939, in the run up to the war, a food order was put in place to prevent people stockpiling more food than their household would use in 7 days, but it expressly excluded food that was acquired before the order came into force.

[Housewives at the time complained that the government had encourage pre-war stockpiling, but there doesn't seem to have been an official edict to do it.]

So people who had stockpiled well in advance (when food was still plentiful) were entitled to keep their food, as well as anything they had grown themselves. Still, the order caused some confusion about what was and wasn't allowed, and it was replaced in 1942.

The new order allowed a household to keep up to 4 weeks of food in stock, again excluding homegrown food. It also didn't apply to any rationed food LEGALLY obtained - so you could (e.g.) save your sugar for jam making later.

From the reports I have seen, the people prosecuted still had hundreds and hundreds of tins of food in stock, even after a year or more of rationing, and were likely to have come by them via the black market or other illegal means.

The sole purpose of the food orders was to penalise people who were circumventing the food controls and fair distribution, and hoarding food, after food supplies had been disrupted. It wasn't to criminalise people who had stocked up before the war, when there was no impact on food supplies.

Posted : 23rd March 2019 9:32 am

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