Two of Britain’s biggest supermarket chains have revealed they are stockpiling food to prepare for a “no-deal” Brexit.
Tesco and Marks & Spencer made the announcement with less than 80 days to go until the UK is due to leave the EU.
Steve Rowe, chief executive of M&S, said his chain had “upped its ante” and begun making a “few real choices”.
He revealed it was bulking up on “additional long-life stuff”.
Bur Mr Rowe said his food business was 70% fresh – so “anything that slows down will contribute to cost and waste”.
Davis Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, also admitted calling meetings to discuss increasing long-life grocery stocks.
However he added the chain “can’t” stockpile fresh food in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Lewis said given the UK imports half of fresh food it eats, Tesco was “very keen” there will be “no sort of friction” at the border.
He added the store “sat down with all suppliers to discuss their production capability, where they hold stock and if we can help them hold it”.
Sainsbury’s CEO Mark Coupe has also warned that given the retailer imports 30% of its food from Europe, a no-deal Brexit would be “hugely disruptive”.
“No amount of stockpiling will mitigate that risk, simply because we don’t have the capacity – and neither does the country – to stockpile more than probably a few days’ worth,” he said.
In the run-up to the Brexit deal vote on Tuesday, Cabinet minister appear split on the effect of a no-deal divorce.
Business Secretary Greg Clark told Sky News on Thursday it would do “incalculable damage” to the country.
Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, was more optimistic about the scenario.
He said today: “I’ve been very clear I think there would be disruption if we had no deal.
“But in the end we are a great country we would find a way through it, we would succeed.”
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March by default.