Storm Emma-type bread shortages will be the norm in the event of a hard Brexit, warn farmers

SHOP SHOCK: empty shelves in the SuperValu outlet on Talbot Street during Storm Emma.
SHOP SHOCK: empty shelves in the SuperValu outlet on Talbot Street during Storm Emma.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Bread shortages on 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.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to put her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to vote in the House of Commons today, which is widely expected to be defeated.

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 par with those experienced during Storm Emma last March when shipments carrying flour from the UK were delayed due to the hazardous weather.

“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.”

“There needs to be a change to this Just In Time delivery method. 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 whole meal.”

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

Mr Miller hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s recent comments that he was trying to reduce his meat consumption in order to improve his carbon footprint, but “governments have done nothing to save the tillage sector from decline”.

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“Successive governments have allowed the Irish milling industry to disappear and did so without any foresight or evaluation on the sector. The majority of flour we import is GM and only increasing our carbon footprint,” he stated.

“Virtually none of the ingredients in slice pan breads are Irish. Consumers are being completely misled.”

Mr Miller pointed out that the Government needs to ask itself why it is so reliant on food imports when climatic conditions mean milling wheat is perfectly suitable to be grown in Ireland.

“There’s scope to increase milling wheat production in Ireland and reduce our carbon footprint dramatically. Why then has up to a quarter of the tillage area reduced in the last six years? This needs to be taken seriously, especially in light of Brexit.”

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