Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Anxieties surrounding the import, supply, access and prices of food in the UK have heightened over the last 18 months.
The implications of COVID restrictions brought about rapid panic regarding the availability of food and drink on our shelves, and in recent months, this has paired with the implications of Brexit and trade agreements, on top of the quickly rising issue of worker shortages in the Industry.
COVID-19 restrictions to work, trade and travel caused a variety of disruptors for the sector; customer closures for distributors and an ability to meet demand stirred nation-wide anxieties, responsible for the panic-buying and stock shortages for retailers at the very beginning of the pandemic.
Now, the UK’s exit from the EU has concerned experts, who warn of likely food price rises over the coming months.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson stated that “there are some modest indications that rising costs are starting to filter through into product prices”, as “a shortage of lorry drivers and a global lack of microchips had combined to create conditions for future inflation.” (1)
Brexit’s tightening of immigration policies, coupled with the emigration of UK workers over the past 18 months has contributed to 16% vacancies for the Industry, and so Industry leaders have urged the UK’s Government to incentivise both UK and non UK residents to look for work in the food and drink network.
To give a better understanding of the implications of the Brexit trade agreement, below is a breakdown of where our food comes from:
“The leading foreign supplier of food consumed in the UK were countries from the EU (26%). Africa, Asia, North and South America each provided a 4% share of the food consumed in the UK.” (4)