Brexit and Covid-19 (Possible Food Shortages)

Ask yourself one question, ‘If you knew that there was going to a second lockdown, and that there would be shortages of food, and other products what actions would you take today?’

I suspect that you would stock up with food, drink, toilet rolls and booze. But what about some books, board games or even a pack of cards to occupy yourself.

Many High Street retailers are now open and shopping on-line for those having access to the Internet means that for the moment you can purchase just about anything provided you have the funds.

But what happens if the High Street retailers start running out of food, drink, toilet rolls and booze?

Could we be facing the prospect of a second lockdown and empty shelves again?

Consider that towards the end of 2019 many people were worried about ‘Brexit’ with forecasts of long queues of trucks at the port of Dover, along with medicine and food shortages.

Many families including my own prepared a Brexit Box with items we were worried might be difficult to purchase after Brexit, and all the major supermarkets rented warehouses and ‘Overstocked’ in anticipation of shortages.

As events transpired the UK government managed to obtain a 12-month transition period and we all gave a sigh of relief.

After the New Year we learnt of a deadly virus decimating France, Spain, and Italy with frightening news coverage of overcrowded hospitals and full mortuaries.

We knew it was only a matter of time before the UK went into lockdown and people needed to stock up with essentials.

Brexit boxes became ‘Coronavirus boxes’ and supermarket shelves emptied. Thank goodness our food distribution centres were full, and that the EU continued to trade with us.

On the 23rd March 2020 we went into Lockdown and we are still living under restrictions and the fear of a virus flare up.

Despite the upheaval of Covid-19 the UK Government refused to request an extension to the Brexit transition which means we are leaving the EU in December 2020 regardless of any deal or no deal.

The facts (As I believe to be correct) 

  • We leave the EU in December 2020.
  • The UK is not self-sufficient in food production; it imports about 50 of Packaged food and a further 30% of unpackaged products which is packaged in the U.K.
  • Basically around 80% of food is imported and half of it comes from the EU and other European countries.
  • A lot of countries are currently adopting a Protectionism policy and are keeping rice, grain, and other stable goods in fear of a global food shortage.
  • Thousands of people have been furloughed and job security is a very real worry for many.
  • The Country is in the deepest recession in living memory.
  • The number of people relying on food banks has increased dramatically.
  • Many crops have not been harvested because of insufficient crop pickers.

A possible Future

  • There could be a resurgence of Covid-19 or a second wave.
  • The UK Government agrees a trade deal with the USA. (As a pescatarian I no longer eat meat, but if I did, I would not consider chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-fed beef no matter how hungry I got.)
  • Backlogs of trucks at the port of Dover.
  • A 10% or more price increase on imported food.
  • Food shortages on some, but not all products.
  • Medicine Shortages on some, but not all products.
  • Events in Hong Kong Could result in tens of thousands moving to the U.K.
  • There is probably going to be famine in many countries around the world, consequential to Covid-19, drought, flooding, plagues of locusts, and war.

What can you do to prepare for an unknown future? 

Firstly, the UK will not run out of food once we leave the EU. There will always be food in the shops but there is every possibility that there will be shortages on some products, delivery delays, and price increases.

Secondly, do not purchase unnecessary food and waste it because it has gone stale or passed the ‘sell by or eat by date’. Many refuse collectors reported a massive increase in waste collections because shoppers purchased too much fresh produce which went off the week after lockdown.

Thirdly, only purchase food you like and intend to eat. That sounds obvious, but examine your food cupboards and pick out the products you bought at the start of the lockdown and ask yourself ‘do you really want this item?’ If the answer is ‘No’ then consider donating it to a food bank.

Fourthly, there is no immediate rush.  Covid-19 is reported on daily and if a new lockdown is announced there will be time to stock up. The UK does not leave the EU until December 2020.

Fifth and finally. Slowly but steadily replenish your food supplies, looking to take advantage of any supermarket bargains. Do not leave things until December 2020, because regardless of Covid-19 people will be preparing for Christmas and the shops are always busy at this time of year.


I have no faith in the UK Government whatsoever, but I believe that within our multicultural society we are stronger when we stand together and support one another. If you can afford to stock up consider purchasing one extra item, it does not have to be expensive or fancy, just one extra item and placing it in the ‘Food Bank Box.’

Thank you

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