Beef prices for shoppers could soar without trade deal

The retail price of beef could rise by as much as 29% if the UK does not reach an agreement on trade when it leaves the EU. 

New analysis by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has shown the potential cost to shoppers if no tariff agreements are put in place.

The BRC said over three-quarters of the food that the UK imports comes from the EU and, without reaching an agreement on trade, most of these goods will be subject to new tariffs.

This would lead to the average cost of food imported by retailers from the EU to increase by 22%. Furthermore, the BRC warned that UK producers could react to higher import prices and push their prices up to align with foreign products.

According to the BRC analysis, beef prices could rise by as much as 29%.

Andrew Opie, director of food policy at the BRC, said: “Price increases of this scale to everyday food items will add a huge burden to hard-pressed consumers whose finances are already under increasing strain from inflationary pressures.

“Even at the lower end of the risk, price rises of five to nine per cent dwarf the increase from inflation that shoppers are currently paying on food goods. And the tariffs are particularly high on meat and dairy products, meaning that products such as beef and cheese would be hardest-hit.

“With consumers’ buying habits being dictated ever more by a shrinking pool of discretionary spend, there’s no doubt that they will find an additional hit of this magnitude to their weekly food bills extremely hard to swallow.

“There will be opportunities from new trade deals in the medium to long term, but there’s a pressing need to avoid a cliff-edge situation on Brexit day. This is why the priority for the UK government has to be securing the continuity of free trade with Europe from March 2019 and thereby delivering a fair Brexit for consumers.”

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