The implications Brexit could have on the food & drink industry

Whether it’s Brexit, the general election or even the next referendum, politics is at the forefront of many a conversation or debate. If you’re betting on election, find all the latest markets and odds online. However, the uncertainty that surrounds ‘deal or no deal’, is something that affects a number of industries – not least food & drink.

It’s believed that the harder the Brexit deal, the more problematic the consequences will be, particularly with regards to food security. A no-deal Brexit would see prices raised, put independent and smaller companies out of business and see tonnes of food wastage as shipments sit at portside due to a number of delays causing gridlock at the borders at Dover. Not only would the choice available be reduced, but the quality too. 

It would mean relying on America for cheaper but ultimately, high-processed and high-sugar products. Just 4% of the food consumed in the UK comes from North America; however, 30% comes from the EU and a further 2% from the rest of Europe. So how may the contents of your shopping basket change?

Fruit & vegetables

Statistics show that the UK produces 57% of our own vegetables but just 16% of fruit. Imports of both fruit and vegetables are high, usually down to growing seasons and weather conditions, with the highest affected items being lettuces (90% imported), tomatoes (80%) and soft fruit (70%). The British Retail Consortium predicted that 130-lorry loads of citrus fruit came from Dover via Spain every day in the lead up to the festive season last year – and on average, 50,000 tonnes of food passes through British ports from the EU.

Solution – obviously fresh items, such as fruit and vegetables cannot be stockpiled, so one solution would be to buy seed packets and grow your own.


There’s no denying that specialist cheeses are high in cost as well as demand and are not always readily available in the supermarkets. Cheeses such as manchego and burrata have already seen an increase in price and popular cheeses such as halloumi or brie could well follow suit. Us Brits love our cheese, consuming around 700,000 tonnes of the stuff each year. However, you’d be surprised to know that an incredible 82% (78,000 tonnes) of the cheddar we eat is imported from Irish cheesemakers!

Solution – buy local. There are plenty of UK-made cheeses on the market. Plus, the UK produces a whopping 94% of the milk it consumes and therefore, cheese should always be readily available.


Channel 4’s Dispatches: The truth about chlorinated chicken couldn’t have been more of an appetite-ruiner. Thankfully, the practise has been banned from the EU for 22 years – but that certainly doesn’t stop a trade deal with America should a no-deal decision go ahead, especially as US chicken is a fifth-cheaper than UK chicken. Similarly, lower-quality cheaper imports are a growing concern for farmers. It isn’t only imports that will be affected – currently, 94% of lamb goes to the EU and 90% of beef which is exported, also goes to the EU.

Solution – there would be lamb chops aplenty, as that’s the UK’s biggest export, plus some other cuts of meat that are sold abroad but Brits find ‘less appetising’. A shortage of legs and loins would see a surplus of livers.

Fish & seafood

Say goodbye to your traditional fish and chips – 90% of the cod that you find battered in the chip shop (or convenience aisle of the supermarket) comes from Norway and Iceland. 

Solution – Lobster and chips or crab and chips, anyone? Fisherman, particularly in Scotland sell the majority of fresh seafood to the continent. However, there would be a surplus of Scottish salmon.


A no-deal Brexit would make 2019’s beverage of choice harder to produce and more expensive. It isn’t just the importing of juniper berries from the Mediterranean, but other botanicals like orange peel from Spain and limes and mint from Morocco. The industry is booming with so many varieties on the market – but it’s one that could be severely hampered.

Solution – buy local. There are two known British distilleries that have started planting their own botanicals: Vicars and Becketts. Alternatively, change your tipple – to whisky. Scotland lays claim to approximately 20 million casks of whisky that are currently maturing as you read this. 


Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on

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