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UK food industry begs for legal favour amid no-deal Brexit food stockpiling concerns

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
A supermarket shelf displays fresh fruit. Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The representatives for Britain’s food industry, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), has asked the government to waive key competition law in the face of a no-deal Brexit.

The FDF wants the government to relax legislation that currently prohibits suppliers and retailers discussing supply or pricing. If the government relaxes the law, it will allow companies to coordinate and direct supplies to one another in order to make sure UK stores have enough food.

"In the event of no-deal disruption, if the government wants the food supply chain to work together to tackle likely shortages - to decide where to prioritise shipments - they will have to provide cast-iron written reassurances that competition law will not be strictly applied to those discussions," said Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer at FDF to the BBC.

The FDF also warns that Britain needs 30 massive empty warehouses to store just a week's extra food supply.

READ MORE: British firms stockpile £6.6bn of goods in run-up to Brexit

Since Britain voted for Brexit in June 2016, a number of industries have warned of how a no-deal Brexit would be detrimental to the UK.

Food and manufacturing firms have all vexed concern over the lack of clarity of no-deal Brexit preparations.

They have also warned of Brits stockpiling goods due to the lack of clarity over how the nation is prepared in the event of a hard Brexit — where all rules and regulations related to the UK being part of the European Union will cease to exist.

In March this year, Brits spent over £4.6bn stockpiling household goods in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. Research carried out by finance provider Premium Credit showed that 17% of the country has started hoarding, not just food, but also drink and medicine.

READ MORE: How no-deal Brexit crate shortages could cripple UK food and drink firms

In June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said UK firms also stockpiled an estimated £6.6bn of goods.

Last month, a leading trade body Make UK said that UK food and drink exporters are unaware they could be crippled by a shortage of suitable pallets and crates under a no-deal Brexit.

Price hikes or even shortages could occur as firms rush to buy the right packaging, while trucks carrying food, drink and other common products in unsuitable packaging could be turned away by EU officials.