Brexit food stockpiling taking up most of UK's cold storage space
Manufacturers here are reporting that finished goods are taking up most cold storage space as stockpiles hit a six-month high across the UK in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.
The IHS Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 54.2 last month, higher than the 53.6 recorded in November - making it a six-month high.
A figure above 50 indicates growth and economists were expecting a reading of 52.5 in December.
Businesses importing goods from the EU will face severe disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. According to the IHS, manufacturers are building up safety stocks to mitigate the potential upheaval.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said: "Our firms are reporting similar trends. Food firms in particular have been stockpiling intermediate products (such as sugars) and many are reporting that finished goods are taking up most, if not all, of the available cold storage.
"This in itself is causing difficulties for those who are producing fresh goods but don't have storage available to them."
The survey showed that uncertainty over the impact of Brexit influenced manufacturers' purchasing activity, stock levels and business confidence in December.
Inventories rose at the fourth-fastest rate in the survey's 27-year history and a rise in finished goods stocks in December was the second-strongest since the survey began in 1992.