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Nestle warns Brexit means 'major challenges' for Britain's food and drink industry

A logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A logo is pictured during the 152nd Annual General Meeting of Nestle in Lausanne, Switzerland April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Nestlé (NESR.DE) is warning that a no-deal Brexit means “major challenges” for the British food and drink industry, as fears grow of disruption to supplies of everyday goods.

Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Finance UK, a spokesman for the global food and drink giant said there was “real concern” at the company and across the sector over the consequences of Britain leaving without a deal.

Nestlé is the world’s biggest packaged food maker, and is behind major household brands including Kit Kat, Nescafe and Purina Petcare.

READ MORE: Brits haven’t been this gloomy about the economy since 2011

It comes as new research suggests almost one in five Brits is stockpiling food, drink and medicines in the run-up to Britain’s scheduled exit day of 31 October.

One customer concerned about supplies of Felix cat food asked Nestlé’s Purina UK pet food brand on Twitter recently if he should stock up and if they anticipated shortages.

A customer services agent replied from Purina UK’s official Twitter account that it “couldn’t hurt” to have some additional supplies “at any time.”

“We’re working hard to ensure we’re as ready as we can be for Brexit so that pets, can continue to enjoy the foods they love. It couldn't hurt to have an extra box in the cupboard at any time, just in case your local store doesn't have the stock!” Purina UK replied.

Nestlé confirmed late last year it had ramped up its stock in the UK to prepare for any disruptions to supply ahead of the previous 29 March deadline for Brexit.

READ MORE: Pound hovers at two-year lows after government attacks EU over Brexit deal

Chief executive Ulf Mark Schneider said in December it had increased stockpiles in “key areas” as a precaution, adding: “So if it should come to any delays or problems, we’ll remain able to serve British consumers.”

A UK spokesman told Yahoo Finance UK on Monday: “The prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal is a real concern for us and businesses like ours.

“There is no doubt that it would present major challenges for our industry and we want the UK to achieve a smooth withdrawal from the EU that maintains frictionless trade.”

Pets at Home, Britain’s biggest pet product retailer, announced last week it would spend up to £8m stockpiling goods.

READ MORE: Johnson spends £434m to stop Brexit Britain running out of medicine