Brexit could cause food disruption ‘unprecedented for an advanced economy outside of wartime’

A man places fruit and vegetables on display at a stall in Borough Market on July 3, 2017 in London, England. On 3 June 2017, Islamist terrorists attacked people with knives in the market after ploughing their van into pedestrians on London Bridge. In total, 8 people were killed and 48 were injured, the attackers were all shot dead by police. (Photo by )
Around a third of the UK’s food is imported from the EU. Carl Court/Getty Images

LONDON — Academics warned the UK is “sleepwalking” into a crisis over food supply post-Brexit, with little signs that the government understands the scale of change and has a plan to cope with it.

Three leading UK food academics on Monday published a paper, reported by the likes of the Times and the Guardian, that warns Brexit could disrupt supply and prices for food in the UK on a scale “unprecedented for an advanced economy outside of wartime.”

Food prices could jump by up to a fifth if the UK drops out of the European Union with no trade deal, the report warns. A third of Britain’s food currently comes from EU countries and the report says there appears to be no government strategy to deal with any shortfall if this supply is disrupted.

“The silence about the future of UK food since the Brexit referendum is an astonishing act of political irresponsibility and suggests chaos unless redressed,” the Guardian quotes the report as saying.

As well as facing a potential food shortfall is EU trade is disrupted, the report warns that the UK’s agricultural industry could suffer from the end of EU subsidies.

Justin King, the former CEO of supermarket Sainsbury’s, warned last week that Brexit will mean “higher prices, less choice, and poorer quality” at supermarkets and said consumers at “completely in the dark” about this. Monday’s report, published by Sussex University, echoes King’s warning.