Food industry warns Gove on Brexit ‘crisis’

The UK food industry has threatened to stop co-operating with government policy consultations, saying it is busy trying to stave off the « catastrophic impact » of a no-deal Brexit.

The warning came in a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove from more than 30 business leaders.

They said it looked « ever more the likeliest outcome » that the UK would leave the EU without an agreement.

They added that it was a « moment of potential crisis » for their industry.

Those signing the letter included the heads of the Food and Drink Federation, the National Farmers’ Union and UK Hospitality.

« Neither we nor our members have the physical resources nor organisational bandwidth to engage with and properly respond to non-Brexit related policy consultations or initiatives at this time, » they wrote.

« Government has recruited many extra staff; we cannot. »

The firms urge the government to place a range of current and planned industry consultations on « pause » until the Brexit uncertainty is over.

The consultations the firms cite include one relating to further curbs on the advertising of sugary foods, a national recycling collection strategy and proposals for a tax on plastic items with less than 30% recycled content.

The letter, first reported by Sky, is further evidence of the industry’s frustration at the continuing lack of certainty over the Brexit process.

« Businesses throughout the UK food chain – and their trade associations – are now totally focused on working to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit, » says the letter, which was sent last Friday.

« Large amounts of time, money, people and effort are being diverted to that end. »

The letter comes just two weeks after major retailers warned MPs that a no-deal Brexit would cause huge disruption to the industry, leading to higher prices and empty shelves in the short-term.

Sainsbury’s, Asda and McDonald’s were among those who warned stockpiling fresh food was impossible, and that the UK was very reliant on the EU for produce.

Source: The Guardian

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