Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

'UK consumers face higher prices, lower quality and less choice after Brexit'

Are UK consumers prepared to pay more for British food?
Are UK consumers prepared to pay more for British food?
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Consumers in the UK may face higher prices, lower quality and less choice when it comes to food as a result of Brexit, a former supermarket CEO has warned.

The former CEO of Sainsbury's Justin King told the BBC's Panorama special on Brexit: Britain's Food and Farming that the public at large is completely in the dark and facing these there key dangers.

He said that the UK's membership of the Eu had led to lower food prices, less choice and better quality food and that Brexit would invariably lead to more barriers, which would mean less efficiencies.

The last thing, he said, any retailer will say is that they are going to put up prices. The ambition of any supermarket, he said, is to put up quality and reduce prices. "Brexit just made it a whole lot harder."

However, John Mills, the founder of JML, said the EU is to blame for food prices being 20pc higher than in the rest of the world.

He blamed tariffs for keeping prices high and said that food prices are where they are to support farmers.

However, farmers interviewed on the BBC Panorama programme were divided on their opinion of the effect Brexit would have on farming in the UK.

Availability of seasonal workers and the standard of food imports were raised by some farmers and consumers.

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One farmer said that markets and standards must be equivalent. "Mass produced beef from international competitors will drive us to the wall."

It was predicted by another that the UK would soon be importing more than 50pc of the food it consumes.

US farmer David Trowbridge, who runs a feedlot in Iowa with said he was looking forward to the opportunity for US beef in the UK.

The US produces one fifth of the beef consumed in the world, Panorama stated, and Trowbridge said its outdoor beef fed on grain is a "very desirable" product.

"The UK is a great place we can go with that produce...we are very excited about bringing the US product into Britain."

He also said that it is up to UK consumers what they want to pay for produce.

The majority of consumers on the street, when interviewed by Panorama, said they would prefer British food, but as one commentator said: "The vast majority favour the idea of British food, but do they do that in the shop?"

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