The STS Food Safety Panel: Brexit – a challenge or an opportunity?
There’s just a matter of months until the UK officially leaves the EU, and with the Chequers deal yet to be approved, it’s left the food industry, like many sectors, wondering exactly how Brexit will affect it?
At STS, we’ve invited some of the biggest names from across the UK hospitality industry to give us their insights. The STS Food Safety Panel includes the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Allergen Accreditation and SSP Ltd and in this series of three blog posts, they discuss key issues for the food industry with Brexit on the horizon, as identified in a new white paper:
Brexit: A Challenge or Opportunity for the UK Food Industry? No deal or a bad deal?
One of the biggest questions at the moment is which scenario would be worse: a no-deal Brexit or a bad deal Brexit. In an ideal world, the UK would come to an amicable arrangement with the EU, but as the deadline approaches, experts are worried this might not happen.
The STS Food Safety Panel believes there are several key challenges facing the industry post-Brexit:
the free movement of food and workers legislative alignment food costs shrinkflation
However, if there’s no Brexit deal on the table, the problems could be even further reaching than first thought.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, recently warned that a no-deal Brexit would be especially bad for the UK economy. She warned that growth would be hindered, and the pound could slump, creating long-term damage that will be difficult to reverse.
At the same time, does the UK really want to find itself backed into a corner over its withdrawal from the EU? The arrangement needs to work for everyone, but is this a realistic outcome given how many months have already been spent on negotiations?
What about the food industry?
As with many other industries, any Brexit deal – or lack of – would have a knock-on effect for the food sector. The UK could become a less desirable place to do business, and trade relations may suffer.
Recruiting new talent, regulation and new supply lines are just some of the areas where the industry could thrive if the right deal is agreed, the STS Food Safety Panel white paper indicates. It argues that with no clear path ahead, it’s down to individual businesses to put their preparations in place.
The panel notes there is a “very clear danger” that a bad food Brexit could be on the table, which will adversely affect food manufacturing and hospitality industries unless plans are made to mitigate the dangers.
What would constitute a bad Brexit for the food sector? Restrictions on the movement of workers, stricter border controls and increasing costs are just three areas of concern identified in the white paper, which also offers some practical advice to companies unsure of how to move forward.