UK supermarkets are stockpiling food due to the threat of food shortages that many believe could come with a no-deal Brexit.
Tesco chief John Allan warned Wednesday (Dec. 9) that it was hoarding non-fresh food as it prepared for “the worst scenario.”
He made his comments ahead of the make-or-break talks in Brussels between the Prime Minister and the European Union.
Boris Johnson flew off to meet with Ursula Von Der Leyen of the EU today to try to enforce a last-minute deal after accusing the EU of pushing for terms “that no prime minister could accept”.
Without a deal, the UK will lapse after December 31 to the damaging terms of the World Trade Organization, reports MirrorOnline.
That position has the ability to impose quotas and tariffs that can drive up the prices of food, medicine and more.
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The Prime Minister told the House of Commons “there is still a lot to be done” before leaving for Brussels on Wednesday evening.
Mr Johnson added that the EU was seeking an “automatic right” to retaliate against the UK if its standards deviate from theirs, and suggested that Brussels could refuse the UK to have sovereign control over its fishing waters.
The Tesco chairman previously warned that leaving the block without a trade deal could lead to empty shelves and price hikes in supermarkets.
He said: “We try to ensure that we have as many non-living products as possible stored in our own warehouses or with our suppliers.
“If we leave without a deal, rates will apply, and those rates can be quite high for some foods.”
Busy ports such as Dover, Felixstowe and Southampton can experience severe delays due to an increase in imports and complex new border controls, where rising distribution costs can be passed on to UK consumers.
But Mr Allan claimed any gaps on the shelves would be temporary and warned against panic buying.
“We can see a shortage of fresh foods, especially short-lived fresh foods,” he said.
“I think it will only be for a limited period, maybe a month or two, before we get back to normal.
“I don’t think there is any reason at the moment for a consumer to panic or buy.
“There will still be plenty to eat in the UK – perhaps there will be somewhat limited choice for a period of time.”
Analysts believe that food prices can rise 3-5% on average, while tariffs on imported dairy products such as French cheeses can be as high as 40%.
The EU has agreed to allow Tesco and other supermarkets in Northern Ireland to continue to supply stores without special Brexit controls.
Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Asda and other trusted traders would be given a six-month grace period before the checks were required.
It means that sausages, burgers and cheeses do not have to be examined separately in ports.