London, 2017-Sep-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — The outcomes of the Brexit negotiations are hugely important to the UK’s retail and food production industries. The UK is a net importer of food – 40 per cent of the food we eat comes from outside the UK, with around a third from the EU-27 alone. In comparison, only 12 per cent of the UK’s non- food imports come from the EU. People in the UK spend around £201 billion a year on food and non-alcoholic drinks.
In April the BRC’s Tariff Roadmap highlighted the need to put UK consumers at the heart of the Brexit negotiations to protect them from the costs of unwanted new tariffs, particularly when it comes to food bills.
Modern food retail relies on complex but responsive supply chains to ensure that customers get the products they want year round, at consistently good quality, and at competitive prices. This is dependent upon us being able to source food across national borders to supplement food production in the UK, without tariffs and unaffected by non-tariff barriers to trade. The alternative, a no-deal Brexit, would mean defaulting to a system which could raise food tariffs by 22 per cent on average.
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC said:
“At a time when household income is already squeezed by inflation and wage growth moving in opposite directions, it’s of the utmost importance that the Government does all it can in the trading negotiations, to limit any further cost increases that could further adversely impact the finances of the UK’s consumers.”
The Tariff Roadmap makes the case for transitional measures to ensure that tariff-free trade continues after the UK’s exit from the EU in March 2019. This is important to avoid rising costs and provide greater certainty for consumers and businesses. Achieving as frictionless trade as possible with the EU will help to keep prices down and maintain greater choice and food security for consumers. Perishable food has a short shelf-life and getting it through the food supply chain in a timely manner requires as little disruption as possible at every stage of the process, including at our ports.
Avoiding a no deal Brexit is key. The BRC will work with government to secure a fair Brexit for consumers by ensuring prices remain low and choice and confidence remains high.
Read IFS Study: How might Brexit affect food prices?