While exports of food and alcohol from the United Kingdom to the European Union are worth £13.2 billion a year, Brexit could severely harm the farming exports in the next few months.
The National Farmers Union gathered earlier this week to discuss on the possible situations and has analyzed the potential consequences as “catastrophic” for the industry in case no Brexit deal was to be made.
Experts fear that the British meat market would “collapse”, while the latter has been very fragile since the nineties ‘mad cow’s’ disease scandal.
What would be the situation is a no-deal Brexit happens for farmers and food industrials? It seems that food inflation is very likely and that British farmers are worried about the impact of Brexit on the food situation in the country.
A “devastating impact” on exports
While reading the report of the National Farmers Union, it seems that its officials have chosen the strongest superlatives to describe what would be the United Kingdom’s farming exports situation in case of a no-deal Brexit.
In order to prepare for the worst, the NFU has met with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as DG Sante, the European Union’s directorate-general for health and food safety.
“No deal is unpalatable and catastrophic for the industry and the more we hear, the more certain we are that our lines all along are right,” shared Minette Batters, the President of NFU to the Guardian.
While the government claims that it has planned some measures to keep the possible food inflation below five percent in case of a no-deal Brexit, farmers believe that starting March 30th, the United Kingdom could be considered as a “third-country supplier”.
Indeed, the traditional trading route between Dover and Calais will have to undergo deep changes, as Calais is not equipped to inspect animals – therefore, the route would be disrupted, and it does not seem clear yet on how the European Union and the United Kingdom would deal with this.
Brexit could cost £9.3bn to retailers
Not only farmers feel gloomy about the Brexit, but so do the food retailers in the United Kingdom, too. As a matter of fact, 71% of UK’s imported food and drink comes from the European Union, while 60% of its exports go to the European Union.
In its last report, the Parliament warns that some products prices could dramatically increase, such as +87% on frozen beef, +42% cheddar and 50% on grated cheese – all three being very popular foods in the U.K.
Vegetables could also undergo the impact of the tariffs immediately according to the government’s predictions, especially tomatoes that would go up by 18% and broccoli by 10%.
Some specialized farmers are particularly worried, such as lamb farmers in Wales and Northern Ireland, who export 90% of their meat.
But for most of the professionals, it seems that sugar could be the most at-risk industry, more than meat, dairy and vegetables.
3,000 sweet exports jobs put at risk
For most of the industrials, sugar will be the ultimate (potential) crash test of the Brexit. Reducing tariffs to almost zero would put at risks about 3,000 jobs in the sugar industry, according to the Telegraph. Moreover, all processed foods’ prices that includes sugar would increase.
According to the latest report of British bank Barclays, white sugar’s tariffs would be 104%, making orange juice’s price, one of its most popular by-products in the country, increase by 31%.
At the moment, the British food and farming industries generates on average more than £110 billion a year and employs one in eight people in the country.
The EU is the UK’s single largest trading partner in agri-food products, accounting for 60% of exports and 70% of imports.