Brexit red tape could add £3 billion to UK food import costs
January 4, 2021 - Red tape and border checks could add £3 billion in costs for UK food importers and raise prices at supermarket checkouts, according to the UK Food and Drink Federation.
Supermarket price rises threatened by a no-deal Brexit may have been avoided, but UK shoppers could still find prices creeping upwards.
Britain’s Food and Drink Federation believes border-crossing red tape could add £3 billion (€3.35 billion/$4.1 billion) a year in costs for food importers – up around an 8% on pre-Brexit days.
The UK buys about half of its food from abroad, with the majority coming from the European Union. Before Brexit, UK food insecurity was already increasing as the Coronavirus pandemic held up supply chains.
The London-based Felix Project, a food-waste redistribution charity, believes Britain's food insecurity will worsen in 2021. In 2020, the charity provided the equivalent of 21 million free meals. This year they estimate that will rise to 38 million meals.
So too the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board estimates expenses increasing by 5% to 8% for livestock products and 2% to 5% for trade in crops.
Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, offers a counter argument, saying as a no-deal Brexit has been avoided, increased administrative fees for trade should hardly be felt by shoppers.
However, UK food exporters could face issues. Most meat processing workers or crop pickers come from outside the UK. With the end of freedom of movement, labour shortages could risk raising their prices too.