The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) wants aspects of competition law to be set aside in order to allow companies to coordinate and direct food supplies with each other should the UK exit the EU with a no-deal Brexit.
Currently the law does not allow this as companies face being fined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The FDF said, “We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year. But we’re still waiting.”
FDF’s chief operating officer Tim Rycroft told the BBC, “In the event of no-deal disruption, if the government wants the food supply chain to work together to tackle likely shortages, to decide where to prioritise shipments they will have to provide cast-iron written reassurances that competition law will not be strictly applied to those discussions.”
A retailer told the BBC that 31 October “is about the worst day you can pick” as warehouse capacity operates at 105% in November compared to 75 to 80% in March.
The UK would need 30 large warehouses to store a week’s extra food supply for the UK.
Another retailer said, “At the extreme, people like me and people from government will have to decide where lorries go to keep food supply chains going.
“And in that scenario, we’d have to work with competitors, and the government would have to suspend competition laws.”