How might Brexit affect small food businesses

In the wake of the result of the EU referendum vote, and with talk of Article 50 being triggered as early as next next March , it’s time for small businesses in the food industry to learn as much as they can about how Brexit might affect them.

With many of our rented kitchens being used by these same small businesses who would be affected, we thought it important to share what would be changing and how they would be affected.

The price of produce could rise significantly

This month, the pound fell to a 3 year low against the euro, and The Independent recently reported that leaving the single market could cost the UK over £60 billion a year .

Indeed, the Brexit secretary David Davis told parliament that there is little we can do to stop the “speculative comments in the next two-and-a-half-years that will drive the pound down and up”. So if Brexit does result in an unhealthy economy and a persistently unstable pound to boot, then the price of food will likely rise during this time.

A weakening of the pound would have a prolonged effect on the overall cost for small food businesses, potentially at every stage of production.

EU laws protect food standards

By sharing the same food standard and hygiene regulations , trading food and produce with the EU is, for the moment, a relatively simple process. Not only that, but consumers all across Europe are also able trust that their food will be safe to eat no matter which country they are in or where their food is from.

However, if Brexit negotiations cause this to change, then the UK will need to establish it’s own food standard regulations. Not only will these guidelines need to comply with those of the EU (if the food is to be sold there), but it could also make trading with the EU more complicated, as the standards might no longer be the same across the board, and national food regulators could find it harder to liaise with each other.

If getting food and produce sourced from within the EU becomes more complicated and thus takes more man-hours to achieve, then it stands to reason that it will become more expensive as well.

It could also mean that the protected status of traditional British products, such as Cornish pasties, could be at risk, as the EU laws are currently acting to protect them.

More control over relevant food legislation

However, the opportunity to re-draft this legislation will also give the UK the chance to change it for the better, including those regarding animal health and welfare.

For example, the government would be able to bypass the long supply chains associated with the current ‘farm to fork’ system; intended to assure food safety. By implementing our own safety methods with a shorter supply chain, it could become much easier to monitor the nutritional content of the food, and to avoid further incident of food fraud like the horsemeat scandal.

However there is apparently a ” limited desire for changes ” in much of the food industry. Not only that, but since all EU legislation has been ratified into UK law as well, so it could prove quite troublesome to change. And according to the Nationwide Caterers Association, any changes to food safety legislation are lot likely to be high on the Governments to-do list when it comes to Brexit negotiations.