How Brexit May Change What People Eat
Will Britons have to forgo citrus post-Brexit?
While politicians argue over Brexit, regular people living in Britain wonder what foods they’ll have access to after the dust settles. Depending upon how long it takes to implement a plan for feeding Britain post-Brexit, the ingredients that become available will reflect a new food system, perhaps one in which Britons will consume more ingredients grown entirely in Britain.
How does the U.K. feed itself now?
According to the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food, and Regulatory Affairs, 52 percent of the food that is consumed in the U.K. is produced in the U.K. About 30 percent comes from the EU, and the rest arrives in the U.K. from everywhere else. The U.K. exports high-value meats and alcoholic beverages, while it imports mostly fruit and vegetables.
Many policymakers are worried about the U.K.’s ability to feed itself in the immediate aftermath of Brexit; consumers, as well as the food industry, have begun to stockpile favorite wine and cheeses as uncertainty about the outcome of trade talks continues. A good bottle of Laphroaig will only last through the weekend; what remains for weekday meals could be sparse until the food system leverages technologies such as indoor farming.
Oranges from Yorkshire or Seville?
Professor Tim Lang of Sussex, an expert on the U.K.’s food policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy, is anxious about the prospects of feeding the U.K. in a Brexit world. In a report commissioned by The Food Research Collaboration, Lang warns of threats to U.K. food security if food safety standards are not upheld. He is also concerned about the effect of Brexit on food service workers. These workers deliver the greatest gross value to the U.K. economy, and a new post-Brexit immigrant policy could threaten the labor supply for the food-service industry. In all, Lang and his fellow collaborators in the study argue for a fresh look at U.K.’s overall food strategy for the future.
Consumers in the U.K. worry that the accessible food from the EU that arrives in limited amounts will become more scarce and more expensive, especially oranges from Seville, wine from…