Food retailers hold “clear the air” talks with government

Top executives from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Coop and other retailers have this week held meetings with the government following a row over the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food supplies.

There were two different meetings this week with Michael Gove as well as a separate scheduled meeting with top civil servants, the BBC reported.

These come following a tense few days in which the government sought to play down fears over food shortages.

The government has admitted certain types of fresh food will “decrease” and ingredients, chemicals and packaging that are “critical” for the food supply chain “may be in shorter supply” in the event of a no deal Brexit. The warnings were contained within the government’s “Yellowhammer” contingency plan, which it was forced to release last week.

“Retailers are particularly concerned that should the government, for immediate political reasons, play down the specific narrow risks to some fresh food supply, consumers will not be prepared on November 1st and will be difficult to reassure,” the BBC reported.

“Some insiders, present at key planning meetings, believe the lack of trust of large parts of the public in politicians mean that reassurances from government ministers designed to stop panic-buying could provoke the opposite response. However, those retailers concerned by an emerging Brexit blame game are also increasingly sceptical that it is their job to be reassuring about the consequences of government policy not of their making.”

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