Brexit causing price rises and supply issues for indies
Fine food retailers have faced Brexit-related supply problems and price rises after the UK finally started life outside the EU.
Firms across the country said they were struggling to get certain products on to shelves and were braced for cost increases after the Brexit transition period ended on 1st January.
Jennie Allen, who owns Bayley & Sage in south west London, said she had seen “various issues” following the “very late date of the agreement”.
“Some suppliers are playing catch up; one has decided not to bother with the paperwork and to stop bringing goods into the UK,” she said. “There have been some delays, and some lead times have been increased going forward.”
Allen said suppliers were warning of future Brexit price rises but that Bayley & Sage hoped to keep its own prices stable through the pandemic, mitigating the higher costs through greater volume.
Val Berry, owner of Haley & Clifford Delicatessen, said the Leeds outlet was struggling to get hold of various cheeses from the Continent.
“They are sitting on lorries in ports and not getting to us,” she said. “I guess it is down to the paperwork. We are currently awaiting a mozzarella shipment and a couple of weeks ago it was brie.
“We have to mark items as out-of-stock on the website and explain to customers. We try to substitute where we can but how do you replace mozzarella balls? It is a lost sale, as customers will just go to a supermarket.”
Although Berry is hopeful that the supply issue is merely a hiccup, she says a resolution is required soon.
“We will ultimately have to start looking for more local supplies if it continues. For now, we cross our fingers.”
Cheese prices have also risen and been passed on to customers who have been “very patient”, said Berry. “Life is not normal and people are accepting of change.”
Ian Comer, retail director at Birmingham-based Becketts Farm, said the shop’s policy of prioritising British produce was paying off.
“We buy local fruit and veg and it’s never been so cheap,” he said. “A box of broccoli last Christmas was £25 – this Christmas it was £10. Perhaps it is because the farmers are shifting volumes.
“We import dried fruit, sugar and chocolate to our bakery and price rises have been bubbling away for 18 months but there has been no sudden jump.”
A Government spokesperson said: “There is extensive advice available to support businesses as they adjust to the new arrangements. It is vital that traders ensure that goods have the correct paperwork to comply with new checks when they cross the EU border.”