According to a lobby group representing Sainsbury’s, Asda, McDonald’s, KFC and other firms, Britain’s food supply could be heavily disrupted if it leaves the European Union without a deal. Fears are that around the time of Britain’s scheduled exit of the bloc problems would be severe. In addition, there is speculation that when certain fruit and vegetable are out-of-season, the issues will re-emerge, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Waitrose supermarkets have also shown support. The hope was that these warnings would be considered in the upcoming key Brexit votes in Parliament.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said plans were in place to keep customs working and traffic flowing in the event of a hard Brexit. Food security was high, and that would “continue to be the case whether we leave the EU with or without a deal,” he said.
Suppliers voiced concerns; “it is not possible to mitigate all the risks to our supply chains, and we fear a significant disruption in the short term as a result if there is no Brexit deal. We are therefore asking you to work with your colleagues in Parliament urgently to find a solution that avoids the shock of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March and removes these risks for UK consumers.”
The British Retail Consortium said that nearly one-third of the food eaten in the UK came from the EU. In March 90% of Britain’s lettuces, 80% of its tomatoes, and 70% of soft fruit was sourced from the bloc. They stressed that there was a need to keep fresh produce fresh. They needed to be able to maintain quick travel times between farms and stores. They suggest that supply chains would be interrupted should Brexit happen without a deal struck. “For consumers, this will reduce the availability and shelf life of many products in our stores,” they said. Furthermore, higher transport costs, currency devaluation and tariffs could push up food prices.
The impending changes will have substantial run-on effects to people outside of predictions. Securing something tangible before Brexit may be something for Parliament to seriously consider.