Bread shortages seen during Storm Emma could become norm in event of hard Brexit

Warning: Transport Minister Shane Ross says maritime sector would face a big challenge.
Photo: Damien Eagers
Warning: Transport Minister Shane Ross says maritime sector would face a big challenge. Photo: Damien Eagers

Claire Fox and Paul Melia

Bread shortages on a par with those experienced during last year's Storm Emma snow could become the norm in the event of a hard Brexit, farmers have warned.

Since Ireland produces virtually no large-scale milling wheat used for sliced pan bread, it imports 80pc of flour, the majority of which comes from the UK.

North Dublin-based agricultural consultant Richard Hackett said in the event of a hard Brexit Ireland could experience bread shortages on a par with those experienced during Storm Emma last March.

"During Storm Emma the flour wasn't able to come over from the UK fast enough, if there was a hard Brexit there could be similar type delays at ports and a backlog. We could very well be short of bread if there is a no deal. We're not good at feeding ourselves as a country and there are opportunities for us to do more, especially when it comes to brown bread and wholemeal."

Chair of the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) Bobby Miller said that bread prices could increase as a tariff of €20/tonne would be placed on flour, which would inevitably be passed on to the consumer.

"The majority of flour we import is GM and only increasing our carbon footprint," he said. "Virtually none of the ingredients in slice pan breads are Irish."

Meanwhile, shipments of goods between Ireland and Europe via the UK landbridge face delays under a hard Brexit.

While temporary customs and other checks will be in place at Dublin Airport, Dublin Port and Rosslare Port by the end of March, "the scale of the checks required will likely result in delays for goods moving through the ports," the Government has said.

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However, Transport Minister Shane Ross has ruled out any impact on flights between Ireland and the UK, saying services would continue to operate.

Some aviation issues remained to be addressed, but the biggest challenge was in the maritime sector, he said.

The comments came at a Government press conference to outline contingency plans being put in place in the event of a hard Brexit.

However, there is still no certainty on cross-Border travel, including possible checks on trucks coming to Ireland from Scotland via Larne, or the potential impact on rail passengers or motorists. This is because contingency plans on the Border will not be published until after the British House of Commons votes on Brexit.

Among the most pressing issues is trade, with some €21bn of goods destined for EU markets crossing from Irish ports to the UK before arriving at continental ports, and vice versa.

Shipments of perishable products including food must be quickly moved, with haulage firms tending to utilise the landbridge due to shorter journey times and the high frequency of sailings, rather than direct sailings to the continental ports.

But "substantial additional customs, agricultural, health controls will be required" at ports and airports in the event of a hard Brexit, a Government document says.

Irish Independent

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