So for now we have Protected Geographical Indication or PGI as the EU calls it. This means the Cornish pasty is protected, the Bakewell tart and many EU specialities. These protections may or may not remain after Brexit but this is only a small part of the post Brexit food landscape. We have major issues that will impact our food chain, labour force and supply chain within the food sectors across Europe. In the UK at least 30% of all employees in the production and supply of foods are from other countries within the EU.
In todays workforce the commonly accepted breakdown is as follows: 20% plus of the agriculture labour force working in this sector originates form outside the UK. As does 60% plus of the work force working for members of the British Meat Processors Association and a staggering 90% plus of the work force working for members of the British Summer Fruits Association
This raises serious questions for three groups of people; the workers, the producers and the consumers, but also the suppliers, distributors, packers and retail. Many questions about citizens’ rights are answered but we do not know what will happen to a migrant or visiting workforce post Brexit. Will only permanent residents be able to take these positions or will there be new temporary employments arrangements and will accompanying families be accepted. What will happen with regards to housing, health care and education. perhaps these questions are for discussion elsewhere bt this is evidence if any were needed of the knock on effect that any decision has after Brexit.
Back to food – currently, the import vs export position of the UK is very unbalanced; for example during 2015 we imported 200% more food and drink products than we exported so any tax and trade differences will necessarily impact on price and possibly supply. Some politicians and individuals are hoping for a free trade deal made between the UK and the EU before the March 2019 deadline but this is looking increasingly problematic and the alternative would see the UK trading under the ruling of the World Trade Organisation. This may mean that food prices are likely to increase but we just do not know. There is some much speculation and so many opinions that it is difficult to force the future. For example the British Retail Consortium has stated that the absence of a trade deal between the UK and the European Union will see the price of imported food rise by 22%. Notwithstanding supply, cost and availability the issue of quality if also prevalent as we do not know whether the current food quality regulations will be maintained once we have withdrawn from the European Union. In short Food may go up in price, it may go down. We may suffer form labour shortages which lead to supply problems or we may find solutions to all of these problems. Here at Brexit Decoded we believe that ordinary citizens should have a voice, that their questions and concerns should be addressed and that voices should be heard. By joining our forum and contributing to the debate we believe that a collective voice is louder and that the politicians will have to hear our members.