'Australia-style' deal would damage food security, says new report from Food and Drink Federation

An 'Australia-style', or no-deal, outcome from UK-EU negotiations would be "deeply damaging for both business and consumers", according to a new paper published by the Food and Drink Federation.

The paper, published ahead of next week's round of talks, calls on the UK and the EU to "reach a deal that enables the UK’s food and drink manufacturers to feed the nation and maintain UK food security". It calls on the UK Government to strike a "zero-for-zero agreement on tariffs".

The paper follows Best for Britain's publication of a report calling for the UK Government to strike an "Affordable Food Deal" yesterday, highlighting concerns that the introduction of tariffs on basic food items could see food poverty numbers soar. The Affordable Food Deal report found that 59% of people think food prices will rise if the Brexit transition period ends without a comprehensive trade deal.

The Affordable Food Deal report highlighted new import tariffs that will be imposed on basic food items like tinned tomatoes, olive oil, beans, pasta and pulses through the new UK Global Tariff. Best for Britain's analysis reveals the UK Global Tariff could add £250 to a household's yearly food costs next year.

Food poverty, which the UN defines as a lack of physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, is currently affecting 4.9 million adults plus 1.7 million children in the UK, and was exacerbated by the pandemic. Use of food banks in March and April effectively doubled compared to the same time last year at the same time as donations were squeezed.

Commenting, a spokesperson for the Best for Britain campaign said:

"We echo the Food and Drink Federation's concern that both an 'Australia-style' deal and no deal would cause real harm.

"Without reciprocal tariff-free access for basic food items, we will no longer see high quality affordable food in our supermarkets.

"That would be a disaster, particularly in light of the government's recent campaign against obesity."