As the UK government says a no-deal Brexit is likely, the food industry reminded it of emphatic resistance to this. The food industry told a Commons select committee in September that price hikes would be inevitable and unfair, preventing many consumers from accessing the food they need.
The industry requested frictionless trade in a tariff-free deal, in evidence to the Commons Select Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union.
In September the Food and Drink Federation said a no-deal or Australia-style outcome would be deeply damaging for both businesses and consumers.
“It is vital that the UK and EU reach a deal that enables the UK’s food and drink manufacturers to feed the nation and maintain UK food security,” it said.
“A no-deal outcome would impose tariffs that jeopardise our access to imports and a large share of the UK’s £14 billion annual food and drink exports to the EU.”
Similarly, the British Food Importers and Distributors Association said trading under the global tariff would significantly increase the cost of food.
“As an example, for canned tomatoes, a product that is used in many households across the UK, a tariff of 14% is proposed,” it said.
“It is unacceptable to make the consumer pay a higher price for staple food products”
“These increases would put some of staple grocery products out of the reach of the poorer consumer. The UK consumer did not vote for Brexit with any expectations of tax hikes, let alone of this magnitude.
“During the time of recovery from Covid-19, and an expected higher level of unemployment and economic recession it is unacceptable to make the consumer pay a higher price for staple food products.
“A no-deal outcome would have a negative impact on the £Sterling rate of exchange, and this would, in turn, further impact food costs beyond merely the imposition of duties and border charges.”
The National Farmers Union told the committee ”The EU is the most important international trading partner for UK farming and given its size and proximity will continue to be so in the future.
“In 2018, 62% of UK Food Feed and Drink exports were to the EU, rising to 74% when alcoholic beverages are excluded. 70% of UK Food Feed and Drink imports were from the EU.
“The NFU continues to call for a trading relationship between the UK and the EU which is free of tariffs and quotas and which is as frictionless as possible.”