Tesco and M&S to stockpile long-life foods in run-up to Brexit

Tesco half year
// Tesco and Marks & Spencer to stock long-life foods if UK crashes out of EU
// Big 4 grocer Tesco currently holding meetings to discuss increasing stocks with suppliers
// M&S planning its own Brexit committee to stockpile long-life foods

Tesco and Marks & Spencer have announced they would be stockpiling packet and tinned foods as the UK prepares for a no-deal Brexit.

According to Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, the Big 4 grocer has been holding meetings to discuss increasing stocks of long-life groceries with suppliers.

However, Lewis said it was not possible to stock fresh food as the UK leaves the EU because consumers eat only half of all imported fresh food.

“We looked at the life cycle and production of product categories that matter most to customers and sat down with all suppliers to discuss their production capability, where they hold stock and if we can help them hold it,” Lewis said.

“It’s not possible to do that sort of thing on fresh food, so that’s where the pinch point would be if there were to be a no-deal.”

UK supermarkets are under pressure to sustain long-life foods and want as little friction as possible at European borders as a no-deal Brexit could lead to major delays at ports.

M&S said it has “upped its ante” and begun to make a “few real choices” on planning its own Brexit committee.

“We have taken some additional long-life stuff but our food business is 70 per cent fresh and anything that slows down will contribute to cost and waste,” the retailer said.

Meanwhile, discount grocer Lidl was recruiting new customs officers earlier.

Sainsbury’s currently imports 30 per cent of its food from Europe and its chief executive Mark Coupe said a no-deal Brexit would be “hugely disruptive.”

“No amount of stockpiling will mitigate that risk, simply because we don’t have the capacity – and neither does the country – to stockpile more than probably a few days’ worth,” he said.

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