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Updated: 22 Dec 2021

Food and drink post-Brexit: what you need to know

Here we take a look at how the availability, price and quality of the food on our shelves will be affected by the UK-EU trade deal.
Shefalee Loth

The EU and UK have reached an agreement.  The EU has confirmed that no tariffs will apply to goods entering or leaving the UK. 

This should mean there are no immediate price rises for food and goods, as had been feared. 

See the latest in our Brexit deal story.

Where does our food and drink come from?

Currently in the UK we produce around half of the food we eat and 30% is imported from the EU. A further 11% comes from non-EU countries under trade deals negotiated by the EU.

However, the quantity we produce varies depending on the type of food: we produce 80% of the beef and cheese we eat, 93% of green peas and 97% of potatoes. 

But there are some foods that we don’t or can’t produce: 

  • 99% of the spinach we consume comes from the EU, as do 92% of peaches and nectarines. 
  • 98% of our coffee and 90% of our bananas come from outside the EU.

Which foods will be more expensive post-Brexit?

At the moment none, unless there are fluctuations in supply and demand or currency. 

The agreement between the UK and the EU means all food imports from the EU will not be subject to any tariffs and traded freely. This includes French cheeses, Italian meats, tomatoes from the Netherlands or beef from Ireland. 

There will be additional border checks, which could add some additional costs, but these should be minimal.

Video: what is chlorinated chicken?

Will food standards stay the same?

Which? research shows consumers do not want lower food standards, even if it means cheaper food.

Countries that have been identified as priorities for future trade deals, such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have different standards to the UK - and in some cases, this means lower standards. The UK could be under pressure to accept food produced to lower standards in order to reach deals as many other products and services will also be part of the negotiations. 

Lowering food standards could mean less protection for consumers including in terms of food safety, quality or animal welfare.

Lowering food standards on imported foods could also leave UK producers struggling to compete with food produced to lower standards and as such lower cost. This could result in UK producers going out of business, and experts have said once we lose breeds of animal or farming capabilities it will be very hard to restore them to current levels.