Warning as food chiefs say new Brexit rules could lead to empty supermarket shelves this winter

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Food chiefs are warning of potential empty supermarket shelves this winter when new Brexit rules come into effect from October.

Food sector leaders are worried that port authorities are unprepared for the implementation of a series of checks, including health certifications on some animal, plant and food products from the EU. The checks are set to be phased in from October under Boris Johnson’s exit deal with Brussels.

Industry bosses fear the new checks could push up food prices and see more shortages in the supermarkets. The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents Britain’s biggest supermarkets, is concerned that potential disruption at Dover and other ports could in turn lead to a lack of fruit and vegetables on the shelves and add“hundreds of pounds” to the cost of importing each lorry-load of produce. 

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When speaking to The Independent, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at BRC said: “Extra costs are always an issue when we are tackling inflation. The main impact [of checks] could be on availability [of goods] if there is disruption at the ports. 

“In the autumn we increase imports of fresh produce from Europe that has a short shelf life, so it is imperative the system works well from day one to avoid impact on customers. Unfortunately, there is a cost – that was an inevitable consequence of Brexit.” 

Shoppers are being warned Brexit rules could lead to empty supermarket shelvesShoppers are being warned Brexit rules could lead to empty supermarket shelves
Shoppers are being warned Brexit rules could lead to empty supermarket shelves | AFP via Getty Images

The warning comes after severe shortages of tomatoes, peppers and other salad vegetables earlier this year. Most of the UK’s major supermarkets, including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all placed limits on the sale of fruit and veg in February, meanwhile some supermarkets put limits on peppers last month.

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