Fresh food supply shortages, a hike in supermarket prices and panic buying ahead of Christmas could hit the UK if it leaves the EU without a deal.
The five-page document says ‘vulnerable groups’ and ‘low-income’ families will be most affected by the price increases.
As the UK is set to leave the EU on October 31, with less than eight weeks until Christmas, supply chains will be put under pressure and ‘certain types of fresh food supply will decrease’, says the document.
Farmers will be hit hard during the busiest time of the year when the ‘UK growing season will have to come to an end’.
Empty supermarket shelves could become a reality, as there is a ‘risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption’, it adds.
In total, the document outlines 20 national concerns, including rioting, medical supply shortages, delays at the border and a ‘significant’ increase in energy prices.
DEFRA wrote in the papers: ‘Certain types of fresh food supply will decrease. Critical dependencies for the food supply chain (such as key input ingredients, chemicals and packaging) may be in shorter supply.
‘In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce availability and choice of products and will increase price, which could impact vulnerable groups.
‘The UK growing season will have come to an end and the Agri-food supply chain will be under increased pressure at the time of year, due to preparations for Christmas, which is the busiest time of year for food retailers.
‘Government will not be able to fully anticipate all potential impacts to the Agri-food chain. There is a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption’.
What does Operation Yellowhammer warn of?
- Three months of disruption at Channel crossings
- Two-and-a-half day delays for lorries entering the UK
- Immigration delays for UK tourists heading to Europe
- Rise in protests and public disorder
- Disruption to fuel supplies
- ‘Significant’ electricity price rises
- ‘Severe extended delays’ to medicine supplies
- Animal disease outbreaks
- Reduction in supplies of fresh food
- Supermarket price rises
- Lack of clean water due to failure in supply of chemicals
- Breakdown in sharing of law enforcement data with EU countries
- Gibraltar not prepared enough
- Fishing wars between UK and EU vessels
- Hard border in Ireland