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Food industry calls for competition law waiver on no-deal Brexit

7 August 2019

The UK food industry is seeking exemption from aspects of competition law in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to allow firms to co-ordinate supplies with each other after a no-deal Brexit.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said it had asked ministers for reassurances at the end of last year, but was "still waiting".

There are fears in the industry that leaving on the scheduled date of 31 October will cause even more supply problems than the original Brexit date of 29 March, because of companies stockpiling ahead of Christmas.

Retailers say they would be put in the position, with Government, of having to decide where lorries go to keep the food supply chain going. In that scenario they would have to work with competitors, and the Government would have to suspend competition laws.

Crossbench peer Lord Haskins, a former chairman of Northern Foods, told the BBC he believed there could be “panic buying” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and Tim Rycroft, the FDF's chief operating officer, said that in the event of no deal, there would be "selective shortages" of food that would go on for "weeks or months".

The industry would be looking for "some pretty cast iron reassurances" that it would not face fines from the Competition & Markets Authority as a result. 

A Government spokesman said the "top priority" was supporting consumers and businesses in their preparations for Brexit.

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