How will a no-deal Brexit affect food prices?

How will a no-deal Brexit affect food prices?
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Keep calm, carry on, and prepare to spend £13 ($16) more each week on food.

In the increasingly likely (paywall) event of a no-deal Brexit, the average grocery shopping basket is expected to rise from approximately £58 to £71, says a new study. That’s an extra £675 per year.

“The foreseeable most likely outcome of Brexit is significant price rises,” write academics from the Universities of Warwick and Bristol in a paper recently published on Arxiv. Estimated price changes by June 2020 vary by food category, but overall, no-deal Brexit prices are expected to rise 22.5%.

The study was conducted by collecting price predictions from experts in food procurement, retail, agriculture, economics, statistics, and food security. Combining those results with ONS data on how much people spend on groceries, creates an estimate for Brexit’s effect on prices.

The academics stress that these price jumps will make it difficult for some Brits to reliably access affordable, nutritious food. They note that personal finances will take a hit, as British household incomes are expected to remain static.

And the government is worried—or at least aware. Last week, a Brexit preparation document leaked to the Sunday Times revealed key planning assumptions that included concerning predictions about the availability and price of food in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

For many people, these higher prices and fewer options at the supermarket will be the most immediate impact of Britain’s break from Europe. The UK imports about 30% of its food from the EU, so a messy divorce from the bloc will certainly mean a jump in costs. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK’s tariffs would revert to those set to align with World Trade Organization rules. That level of import duties averages 22% on food imports. Some Brits are even prepping for an uncertain future by stockpiling goods prior to exit day.

Fewer choices and higher prices are expected to have deadly effects. Brexit could result in thousands of additional deaths due to coronary disease and stroke—since access to healthy foods could be reduced. The extra deaths are predicted under all Brexit scenarios, says research published in the British Medical Journal. A no-deal Brexit will intensify the effect.

Photos: fcafotodigital/Getty Images (produce, meat, fish, cheese). Amanda Shendruk/Quartz (coffee, soda, jam)