Defra Secretary George Eustice has voiced his confidence in the food chain’s ability to survive a no-deal Brexit following its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Giving evidence to MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee this week (June 30), Mr Eustice claimed the coronavirus crisis had demonstrated how ‘remarkably resilient’ the UK food system is.
He said: “There were concerns about the supply of vitamins which go into the fortification of bread and the shortage of glycerine, a preservative, but remarkably, the supply of fresh fruit, salads and vegetables from Spain continued largely interrupted despite all the problems.
“Food supply chains right across Europe kept going.
“I am more confident than ever we do not need to worry about the end of the transition period."
The Minister went on to add he believed the country would continue to import food no matter what kind of agreement was reached or not reached with the EU.
His comments came just one week after academics at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) warned a no-deal Brexit could have ‘far more severe’ effects on the fruit and vegetable supply chain than Covid-19.
Food marketing researchers Cesar Revoredo-Giba and Montserrat Costa-Font monitored the cost of 20 fruits and vegetables during March and April, and found several had increased in price, such as tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, oranges and pineapples.
The pair claimed rising fruit and vegetable prices were likely to lower consumption and reduce nutrition, particularly in lower income households.