The government has said 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 are contained within the government’s “Yellowhammer” contingency plan, which it was forced to release yesterday.
The five-page document sets out a series of “reasonable worst case planning assumptions”. Point seven, prepared by DEFRA, covers food.
Although there is unlikely to be an overall shortage of food in the UK, availability and choice will be reduced and prices will rise. This could “impact vulnerable groups”.
The government also recognises that the agri-food supply chain is entering its busiest period, pre Christmas, but said it would not be able to “fully anticipate all potential impacts to the agri-food supply chain”. There is also “a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption”.
Food industry representatives have been raising these concerns for many months now.
“The Yellowhammer document confirms what retailers have been saying for the last three years – fresh food availability will decrease, consumer choice will decrease, and prices will rise. This isn’t good for the British public and this isn’t good for British retailers,” said Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive.