‘No-deal Brexit’ Will Result in an Increase in Fruit and Veg Prices
The Food Foundation and the global research program SHEFS recently released an analysis on the likely impacts of the UK’s departure from the EU on fruit and veg prices in the UK. Preliminary analysis from ongoing research has revealed that a No-deal Brexit would have a negative impact on the prices of fruits and vegetables in the UK. The UK is highly reliant on these imports, currently bringing into the country 65% of the total UK supply. In the event of a No-deal Brexit, imports from the EU would automatically be subject to new UK ‘Most-favored Nation’ tariffs. In addition, imports from non-EU countries may also be subject to increased tariffs. As a member of the EU, the UK benefitted from around 40 free trade agreements signed by the EU. The UK has so far signed bilateral deals replicating just 22 of these agreements.
If tariff increases were passed directly on to UK citizens, the average British family would pay 4% more for their fruit and vegetables from January 1, 2021. Prices for some products could rise by even more: for example, tomatoes would become 9% more expensive.
The food industry has been warning of the potential for additional costs and significant delays at UK borders such as those for customs and plant health checks, and a lack of cold storage capacity in the UK, as well as the potential for shortages and concomitant food prices rises. These issues will particularly have an effect on perishable food products, including fruit and vegetables, the researchers say.
Alan Dangour, professor of Food and Nutrition for Global Health, LSHTM, director of the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health, said: “These new analyses show that under a no-deal Brexit it could become even more expensive in the UK to eat a healthy diet. The UK is heavily reliant on fruit and vegetables from the EU and the government’s inability to define a post-Brexit deal is putting the nutritional health of the nation at risk.”
Dr. Soledad Cuevas, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine added: “This is the first time the newly published UK general tariffs are used to estimate the potential impact of Brexit on the cost of fruit and veg imports. Although it’s hard to know how much of these cost increases will be passed on to consumers, these preliminary results are worrying, both for consumers and for producers.”