No-Deal Brexit Could Lead to Vegetable Shortages, U.K. Warns

Published: 8 Oct 2019

A no-deal Brexit could cause shortages of some fresh fruits and vegetables because of possible threats to time-sensitive supply chains, the U.K. government warned. 
The "just-in-time" nature of grocery logistics in the U.K., which imports half the food it eats, means even short delays at the border could reduce the availability of a "limited number of short shelf-life" goods, according to a report Tuesday. 
The update on the U.K.'s preparedness for a possible disorderly EU exit was released hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government cast further doubt on prospects for a deal, following a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Around 30% of the food eaten in the U.K. comes from other EU countries. 
Britain's government also raised the possibility it may flout EU rules that provide special guarantees for foods that originate from a certain region, such as Champagne or feta cheese. EU guidelines ensure that more than 3,000 types of agricultural products benefit from these so-called geographical indicators. 
In the report, the government said that in a no-deal scenario, Britain would no longer be required to recognize this status and noted that the EU hasn't yet formally made such a request. The U.K. will establish its own such framework on Oct. 31 to ensure the continued protection of British products in domestic markets. 
Last month, British supermarket chain Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc said the October deadline will come after the U.K. growing season for salad and fruit, increasing reliance on European imports. Britain's two biggest grocers, Tesco Plc and J Sainsbury Plc, warned in July that the government couldn't have picked a worse date for leaving the EU. 
Read More: What a Crash Out of the EU May Look Like 
Michael Gove, the cabinet minister charged with no-deal Brexit planning, told Parliament Tuesday that a hard exit will bring challenges, but they will be overcome. 
The government published its worst-case scenario for a no-deal Brexit earlier this summer in a document it tried to keep secret. Code-named Yellowhammer, it described how a disorderly exit would "reduce availability and choice of products" in U.K. supermarkets, as well as increase prices.

Further Information

For further information, please visit https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-08/no-deal-brexit-could-hit-fruit-and-vegetable-supply-u-k-warns

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