BRC urges MPs to find alternative to no-deal Brexit
Customers will face reduced choice in the wake of a hard Brexit, says Consortium
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) yesterday sent a letter to MPs signed on behalf of food retailers including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, ASDA and Sainsbury’s expressing fears of “significant disruption in the short term” – and customers having to face a depleted choice of food produce – in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The letter points out UK food’s close supply-chain links to Europe and highlights the issue raised by seasonal timing: “In March… 90 percent of our lettuces, 80 per cent of our tomatoes and 70 per cent of our soft fruit is sourced from the EU…As this produce is fresh and perishable, it needs to be moved quickly from farms to our stores. This complex, ‘just in time’ supply chain will be significantly disrupted in the event of no deal. Even if the UK government does not undertake checks on products at the border, there will still be major disruption at Calais as the French government has said it will enforce sanitary and customs checks on exports from the EU, which will lead to long delays; Government data suggest freight trade between Calais and Dover may reduce by 87 per cent against current levels as a result. For consumers, this will reduce the availability and shelf life of many products in our stores. “
The letter also expresses the signatories extreme concern over the impact of tariffs: “if the UK were to revert to WTO Most Favoured Nation status, as currently envisaged in the no-deal scenario, it would greatly increase import costs, which could in turn put upward pressure on food prices. The UK could set import tariffs at zero but that would have a devastating impact on our own farmers, a key part of our supply chains.”
The letter goes on to highlight the fact that the UK’s frozen and chilled storage is already being used, with little general warehousing space available and that alternative supply-route options are limited.
The signatories urged the MP to avoid a No Deal Brexit. MPs are due to vote tonight on Brexit options.