New trade tariffs that will be applied in the event of a no-deal Brexit will increase the price of fruit and vegetables in the UK, according to a study published by the global research programme Sustainable & Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) on Thursday.
The price of fruit and vegetables would increase by 4% on 1 January in a no-deal scenario. Some items may increase even further, including tomatoes becoming 9% more expensive.
"The actual impact could be even larger; extra costs that are not taken into account in our analysis, such as transaction costs due to border checks, could further exacerbate the estimated effect," said Paraskevi Seferidi, research fellow at Imperial College London.
“Increased food prices will impact the more deprived groups of society the most,” according to a statement released by SHEFS.
The EU and UK are still in Brexit talks. The pound rallied on Thursday after Ireland’s foreign minister said there was a “good chance” of a trade deal being agreed in the coming days.
The UK is highly reliant on vegetable imports, currently 65% of UK supply, according to research cited by the study.
In a no-deal scenario, those imports would be automatically subject to new UK ‘most-favoured nation’ tariffs. In leaving the bloc, the UK also benefited from over 40 free trade agreements that will no longer apply, which means imports from non-EU countries could be subject to even more tariffs.
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, helping to protect against diseases that include obesity and some forms of cancer.
"These new analyses show that under a no-deal Brexit it could become even more expensive in the UK to eat a healthy diet,” added Alan Dangour, professor of Food and Nutrition for Global Health, LSHTM, director of the Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health. “The UK is heavily reliant on fruit and vegetables from the EU and the government’s inability to define a post-Brexit deal is putting the nutritional health of the nation at risk."
SHEFS is a new interdisciplinary research programme that has case study sites in the UK, South Africa and India. Its work is intended to help policy makers shape food systems that will deliver healthy, accessible, affordable and sustainable food for future populations.
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