Dairy products like butter, yoghurt and cheese could become luxury goods after Brexit, a major company has warned.
Arla Foods said if the findings of a report by the London School of Economics (LSE) are correct, British consumers could find everyday dairy items difficult to get hold of, as well as more expensive.
The company, which is part of a pan-European cooperative owned by around 11,000 farmers, has previously warned that a ‘hard Brexit’ without a trade deal could have a disastrous impact on the UK’s dairy industry and its consumers.
And now it said the LSE report, ‘The impact of Brexit on the UK dairy sector’, highlighted issues that could lead to a ‘dairy dilemma’ in the UK.
It said potential difficulties in importing dairy products from Europe could lead to a shortage of some items, particularly speciality cheeses, while growing pressure on costs could make everyday goods more expensive.
The report also highlighted the possible impact of post-Brexit labour shortages that would have an effect on the supply chain, as well as delays caused by changed like increased times due to longer checks at the border.
Ash Amirahmadi, UK Managing Director at Arla Foods UK, said: “The farmers that own the Arla dairy cooperative already balance keeping consumer prices down with maintaining quality and the best standards, including high animal welfare.
He said: “There’s no margin to play with here in the value chain. Any disruption means that if we don’t get the practicalities of Brexit right we will face a choice between shortages, extra costs that will inevitably have to be passed on to the consumer or undermining the world-class standards we have worked so hard to achieve.”
He added: “Our dependence on imported dairy products means that disruption to the supply chain will have a big impact. Most likely we would see shortages of products and a sharp rise in prices, turning every day staples, like butter, yoghurts, cheese and infant formula, into occasional luxuries. Speciality cheeses, where there are currently limited options for production, may become very scarce.
“It is important to be clear about this: Brexit might bring opportunities to expand the UK industry in the long term, but in the short and medium term we cannot just switch milk production on and off. Increasing the UK’s milk pool and building the infrastructure for us to be self-sufficient in dairy will take years.”
“To protect the British public we are calling on both sides in the negotiations to be pragmatic and sensible as they address the practicalities of Brexit, allowing us to have frictionless customs arrangements and ready access to key labour in the years ahead.”