What will Brexit mean for UK food prices?
Brexit and Food Availability will be THE topic of conversation.In 2018 half of the food we eat in the UK is imported. The EU supplies us with 30% of those imports. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that leaving the EU will put up prices.
Food on demand is the norm
While we have been in the European Union, food from Europe has entered the country with no tariffs. Also there has been no lengthy wait at customs. Therefore availability is easy. Movement has been free and UK citizens are used to buying pretty much what we want when we want. We can’t imagine there won’t be some impact post -Brexit on food availability. Perhaps that’s being too negative.
Will food perish during long waits at ports?
The UK is going to be leaving the customs union and as yet we have not decided exactly what will replace the current regulations. What we do imagine is that waiting times at ports will rise and we can probably see a repeat of the lorry parks up the motorways. The government suggests this won’t be the case. What do you think?
Not only this but it is anticipated that tariffs on imported foods will rise by 22%.
That doesn’t mean that immediately we will pay 22% more for our groceries but we will see prices rise. For many, coping with the sharp hike in household energy prices and fuel for transport is hard enough, but food too? To read more there is a government paper available on this subject entitled, ‘Brexit: food prices and availability.’
Obviously everyone will feel the impact of Brexit and food availability pretty quickly
The Government is inevitably going to do something to stem this future problem. They could make the decision to simply abandon tariffs on food imports but that would compromise UK farmers and producers. They simply wouldn’t be able to compete. Whatever happens the Government will have to do its very best to ensure that trade remains ‘frictionless’. What ‘that best’ will be is anyone’s guess. They have published a document entitled ‘How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal‘. It makes interesting reading.
Will it all be so free and easy post Brexit?
If we step away from the customs union we will probably have to make sure we mirror EU standards anyway, to allow the EU to feel confident about our own exports. This will probably upset many in politics because the whole point of leaving is the perceived ability that we will be free to ‘do our own thing’ and not be bound by European regulation.
If we don’t come to some satisfactory agreement and EU imports go through the same checks as non EU imports we are going to struggle to cope. We don’t have the IT capacity or the person power to take on such a significant increase in workload.
So what should we do about food in the UK?
It all makes sense? We need to switch focus to local produce. That may mean we forgo some of our ‘luxuries’ but it will mean we support the UK at a time where there is much uncertainty. During the war when merchant ships were being targeted it was necessary to dig for Britain. We wonder if we don’t set up a new campaign entitle #digdoncaster. This is where we grow our own and also make every effort to buy from our local producers.
We are all aware that we waste a ton of food
In addition it’s likely our portion control went out of the window years ago. If imported foods become significantly expensive what a brilliant opportunity to make more in the UK. Our farmers and producers could well see an unequalled opportunity playing right into their hands.
10 things we can do to cut food bills
- Buy local; support local producers
- Eat seasonally where possible
- Visit farm shops or join a veg box scheme
- Ask supermarkets to stock UK versions of our favourites
- Get into conversation with your local shop or market stall and ask them to promote UK and locally grown food
- Start growing food and herbs at home wherever and however you can
- Think about applying for an allotment and share the space with neighbours or family members
- Share fresh produce costs with others so you can buy in bulk and halve the costs
- Consider UK frozen foods that cuts waste as you only use what you need
- Find out just what can be bought locally from local producers, pick your own fruit and veg and be more aware of what is being grown and made in Yorkshire. This is The Yorkshire Way.
Shall we forget tariffs and concentrate on food miles instead?
Yes, we can beat increased tariffs on imports from the EU but wouldn’t it be better to cut food miles too, increase employment opportunities and develop the local economy by buying local?
In Doncaster we are surrounded by some pretty fertile countryside
In fact, there has never been a better time than now to support our local farmers and even take the plunge and grow our own. There are still allotments in the borough that are crying out for new owners. We could be very local and neighbours could take on an allotment and divide it up between them. Our farm shops could develop our ranges, new employment opportunities could be developed to produce our own Greek style yoghurt. Brie and Camembert are being made successfully in the UK right now. Cornwall and Somerset are two locations in full swing with their production and are actually winning awards in international competitions.
It just needs a will and then we can find a way. Let’s start using the hashtag #digdoncaster and do our bit to support our industries and producers and keep an eye on the mounting shopping bills. We can also shop local and do our bit to tackle supermarket waste.
What’s your idea for coping effectively post Brexit? We’d love to hear your suggestions.