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Brexit food trade barriers have cost UK households £7bn, report finds

Since Brexit, British households have paid £7 billion to cover the additional cost of trade barriers on food imports from the EU, according to the London School of Economics (LSE).

The university's most recent report estimating the impact of leaving the EU on food prices in the United Kingdom found that trade barriers were consistently impeding imports, resulting in average price increases of £250.

Since 2019, the cost of food in the United Kingdom has increased by 25%, as calculated by researchers. However, if post-Brexit trade restrictions were not in place, this increase would be only 17%, or nearly a third less.

According to their calculations, all British households paid an additional £6.95 billion as a result of the impact.

Between December 2019 and March 2023, the price of food increased by nearly 25%. Without Brexit, this figure would be 8 percentage points (30%) lower, according to this analysis," the report found.

In 2017, the LSE institute for economic performance estimated that departing the EU would add an average of £210 to household food expenses between 2019 and 2021, at a cost of $5.8 billion.

Recent inflation data indicate that the United Kingdom has the highest food inflation rate among industrialised nations.

The consumer prices index, as measured by the Office for National Statistics, decreased to 8.7% in April from 10.1% in March, but food inflation remained elevated at 19% over the past year.

Brexit trade impediments include additional documentation to validate products and veterinary inspections of livestock.

Nigel Jenney, chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), stated, "It is imperative that the government adopt a total least-cost border solution that satisfies the requirements of a modern "just in time" supply chain."

"Failure to do so puts the nations fresh produce and flower supply at material risk. “

Since the publication of the Target Operating Model (TOM) in early April, FPC have engaged consistently with Defra to forewarn of the impacts of their original and revised border strategy. This successfully resulted in the government releasing a fundamentally reduced Medium Risk category which excludes fruit and vegetables.

In order to reduce inflation, the International Monetary Fund has also urged the British government to reduce non-tariff trade barriers.

In a report on the health of the British economy, the Washington-based organisation recommended that the government work to reduce inflation caused by trade barriers with its major trading partners following the Windsor agreement between London and Brussels.


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