Food – Project Fact

Some very worrying research has come from the University of Liverpool and Imperial College London, which suggests that the shortage of fresh food which would certainly be caused by the disruption engendered by any no deal Brexit and also, importantly, a free-trading agreement with the EU and even with third-party countries.

All scenarios would necessitate an increase in transaction costs – extra costs that the UK will be required to pay on imported goods because of customs clearance, and of course quite probably trade tariffs as well – never mind in the age of just in time, the disastrous problems of just out of time.

Guy Watson, of the co-operative Organic Veg Box delivery scheme ‘Riverford’, has already stated that, with Brexit falling in the ‘Hungry Gap’, even small delays to his veg imports, which amount to at least 70% of his requirements at this time of year, would imperil his business. He risks not having anything much in his boxes to send out. If he cannot send them out properly filled it will not be long before he defaults on his bank loan….

So Brexit imperils our foremost organic food (and for most of the year it is mostly local) delivery company.

Of course those who are really fearful could just stock up on the brexit box survival kit with a shelf life of 25 years, which should at least have the advantage of lasting until we get all those pesky trade deals finally signed, as long as they can also stump up the £300 cost – and are happy with a prolonged diet of freeze dried food.

Meanwhile, the Liverpool and Imperial researchers also looked at people’s average intake of fruit and vegetables using the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

Even at the present time, only 27 percent of adults aged 19 to 64 and 35 percent of those aged over 65 achieve the daily recommended fruit and veg intakes.

Under all Brexit scenarios modelled by the team, prices rose. For example, a no-deal Brexit would increase the cost of bananas by 17 percent, citrus fruits by 14 percent, and tomatoes by 15 percent.

Such price rises would lead to the British public eating between 3 percent and 11 percent less fruit or vegetables, depending on the scenario.

With the rise and rise of foodbanks it is already clear that the increased prices would fall most heavily on those least able to afford it.

So that means that, far from a Brexit dividend giving extra resources for the NHS, that, without the vegetables (from somewhere – it could of course be the UK, but there is no sign at all of government help or even effort to make this happen) in order to keep us healthy, the NHS will, as ever, become more of a National Illness Service.

The NHS is likely to pick up the tab and to incur extra costs as a result of Brexit.


  1. Peter Dawe -

    Let them eat cake?

  2. Peter Dawe -

    Please do not conflate short, medium and long term issues.
    “The fresh food gap” lasts until our first local greens i.e. May, I don’t think we will start suffering scurvy!
    The assumption that EU exporters are going to abandon the UK market on Brexit looks doubtful.
    The idea that the French gov’t would hinder their farmers reaching our market looks suicidal.
    Much of our “fresh food gap” veg come from outside the EU anyway.
    Most of the UK poor don’t eat fresh veg it seems.
    In the long term eating seasonal veg and reducing food-miles is more sustainable anyway, so we should cheer that too.

    Yes some businesses will suffer, others will prosper

  3. Peter May -

    Who knows whether we’l be suffering from scurvy – but why should it even be a vague possibility?
    I think the report is trying to show that tho’ exporters may not abandon their market the market might shrink whether we or the French or the Spanish like it or not. We currently import, according to the ONS, half our food so to buy local and cheap we’ll need to turn most of East Anglia into greenhouse like the Dutch and dig for victory elsewhere – a prospect the government shows no grasp of. That’s the short term of course but if we only get through the short term by undernourishing a percentage of the population why do this to ourselves?

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