When Brexit finally takes place, what’s the worst thing that can happen to the supply chain?

When Brexit finally takes place, what’s the worst thing that can happen to the supply chain?

19 May 2017

  • FLT warehouse

Environmental groups have been trying to get across the importance of eating seasonal food and reducing food miles for years. Maybe Brexit will really make it happen because unseasonal imported foods might start to become prohibitively expensive for the majority of people. But is eating more seasonal food with shorter food miles really a bad thing?

So, if you ask me what will be the worst possible outcome, it’s probably that we will all end up eating more cabbages and turnips!  Perhaps we will need to start being more sensible about having more seasonal, locally grown produce. Tomatoes might get pricier but could start to have more taste because there might not be so many cheap imports and we might all need to get creative with the cabbage over the winter!

We do not know what form Brexit will ultimately take so it is impossible to be able to comment with real certainty on what will happen in the food supply chain after Brexit. There will definitely be some clear impacts felt in the areas of sourcing and production / processing and also in onwards transportation. 

Imported ingredients from the EU may become more costly, there may be new quality control legislation to adopt and new packaging requirements. We may also see increased demand for warehousing space and for longer shelf life goods, for example, with shelf life extended either through new manufacturing processes, better packaging, or greater use of temperature controlled environments and refrigerated vehicles. 

If the removal of free trade agreements slows down the import and export of goods, there will be greater need for technology to control and monitor product shelf life and the kind of data held in the warehouse management system will need to include, for example, more product use by data in addition to the current inventory monitoring information. Warehouse space may be higher in demand and with the cost of warehousing already high, this might translate into higher prices. 

No one can really predict what the outcomes will be but we can say that there are far too many businesses with too much to lose for us to see changes introduced that are fundamentally bad for either the British or other EU member economies in the long term.