Average food prices could rise by nearly a quarter if the UK departs from the EU without a tariff-free trade deal, according to new analysis from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Over 75 per cent of the UK‘s imported food comes from the EU, and the BRC has warned that prices could skyrocket and add a “huge burden” to shoppers.
If the UK agrees on new tariffs based on the WTO after the official divorce process in 2019, items like cheese could jump by 30 per cent in price, while tomatoes could rise 20 per cent.
There are also fears that UK producers would boost their prices in reaction to higher import costs aiming to align prices with foreign products.
“Price increases of this scale to everyday food items will add a huge burden to hard pressed consumers whose finances are already under increasing strain from inflationary pressures,” BRC food policy director Andrew Opie said.
“Even at the lower end of the risk, price rises of five to nine per cent dwarf the increase from inflation that shoppers are currently paying on food goods. And the tariffs are particularly high on meat and dairy products, meaning that products such as beef and cheese would be hardest hit.
“With consumers‘ buying habits being dictated ever more by a shrinking pool of discretionary spend, there‘s no doubt that they will find an additional hit of this magnitude to their weekly food bills extremely hard to swallow.
“There will be opportunities from new trade deals in the medium to long term, but there‘s a pressing need to avoid a cliff-edge situation on Brexit day.
“This is why the priority for the UK Government has to be securing the continuity of free trade with Europe from March 2019 and thereby delivering a fair Brexit for consumers.”