Picture: 123RF/ DONATO FIORENTINO
Picture: 123RF/ DONATO FIORENTINO

London— Britain’s food security could be threatened if the country leaves the EU without a deal and suffers an abrupt hit to its trade with the bloc, the BBC quoted a retailers’ industry group as saying on Monday.

A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) declined to comment on the BBC report but said the group had previously warned of the risks of a no-deal Brexit, including the possibility of higher food prices.

Business leaders have expressed alarm at the prospect of chaos at ports if Britain does not agree on the terms of its withdrawal from the EU, which is scheduled to happen on March 29.

The BBC said the BRC made its latest warning in a letter sent to legislators and signed by supermarket groups including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Lidl.

The BBC said the letter highlighted food retailers’ fears of disruption to suppliers at the end of March, noting that 90% of lettuces, 80% of tomatoes and 70% of soft fruit is imported from the EU at that time of year.

The BRC has previously warned that a “cliff-edge” Brexit would clog up food supplies, raise prices and throw retailers out of business.

In July 2018 it said food and beverage products would face an average increase of up to 29% in the cost of importing from the EU from non-tariff barriers alone. Many of these increases would be passed on to consumers in higher prices, it said at the time.

Earlier this month Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Britain’s two largest food retailers, said the country faced a fresh food bottleneck if it dropped out of the EU without a deal.

Reuters