According to food industry officials, if the UK leaves the European Union next month without agreeing on trade terms, Britons could face shortages of fresh food, price rises and less variety.
With no deal in sight as Britain’s March 29 exit date approaches, supermarkets are stockpiling, working on alternative supplies and testing new routes to cope with an expected logjam at the borders.
However, there are some enormous problems there. “You can’t stockpile fresh produce, you haven’t got any space and it wouldn’t be fresh,” said Tim Steiner, head of online supermarket pioneer Ocado.
The warnings, including talk of whether rationing would be needed, are part of a chorus of concern from businesses who say they are weighed down by uncertainty in what was once considered a bastion of Western economic and political stability.
The last time Britain’s food supplies were seriously hit was when fuel protests prompted panic buying almost two decades ago, forcing some supermarkets to ration milk and bread and others to warn that stocks would run out in days.
According to reuters.com¸ executives within the food chain said Britain was better prepared than 2000, but disruption may be more widespread and last longer than the few days it took before the fuel dispute was settled.