Leaving the EU without a deal could see the price of some of the most commonly bought fruit, vegetables, meat and fish rise by up to 45%, leading retail bodies in the UK, Northern Ireland and Ireland have warned.
With less than 40 days until the UK leaves the European Union, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), Retail Ireland and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) claim that a ‘no deal’ Brexit will see increased tariffs and new regulatory checks leading to higher prices and reduced availability of many goods, including shopping basket staples such as tomatoes and apples, which at this time of year are heavily imported from, or via, Europe.
Aodhán Connolly, director of NIRC, said: “A no-deal Brexit brings tariffs, customs processes, checks and costs which our industry, and Northern Ireland families in particular, cannot afford to absorb.
“Our households already have half of the discretionary income of British households and less than those in the Republic of Ireland. A no-deal Brexit will hit us first and hit us hardest. This is not acceptable.”
Thomas Burke, director of Retail Ireland also said that “a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have devastating economic consequences and “must be avoided”.
“However, regardless of the type of Brexit agreed over the coming weeks, retailers will see an increase in their operating costs arising from checks at ports and other supply chain disruption.
“In the current operating environment, these additional costs simply cannot be absorbed and will have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices,” he said.
William Bain, head of EU and International at the BRC also issued a warning: “It is not just the people on the island of Ireland that this will affect.
“Those in Great Britain will see the price of goods from Ireland and Northern Ireland rise,” he said.
Our supply chains are highly integrated, with food ingredients coming from both Ireland and the EU, and 60% of the £2bn of NI agri-food bound for Great Britain crosses the Irish sea via Dublin.
“This will affect the price of shopping in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead in the same way as it will in Belfast or Dublin, with cost rises.”
The scheduled withdrawal of the UK from the EU is due to take place on 29 March.