Knowledge for better food systems

UK food prices could rise without a post-Brexit trade deal

Image: George Hodan, Brexit Referendum UK, Public Domain Pictures, Creative Commons CC0

The report “Brexit: food prices and availability” from the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee of the UK House of Lords examines the potential impacts of Brexit on the UK food supply. 30% of the UK food supply is currently imported from the EU and a further 11% from non-EU countries under terms set by EU trade deals.

The reports finds that:

  • If no trade deal is reached, UK food prices could increase because of tariffs
  • If, to counter price rises, tariffs are cut on all EU and non-EU food imports, then many UK producers could be driven out of business
  • Even with a trade deal between the UK and EU, leaving the customs union could cause “non-tariff barriers” such as customs and border checks, potentially overwhelming existing UK capacity and reducing availability of some products
  • It would not be easy to increase either UK food production or imports from non-EU countries
  • Fruit and vegetables may be particularly affected, as 37% and 40%, respectively, of UK supply of these comes from the EU
  • Any price increases could lead to greater food insecurity in the UK.

Find the full report here. See also the Foodsource building block What is food security?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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