Brexit becomes apparent in supermarkets

Half-empty shelves and scarcity of fish: barely two weeks after Brexit came into force, the chaos has arrived. A (non-exhaustive) overview.


Poor preparations

The biggest problems currently occur in Northern Ireland, writes Belgian newspaper De Standaard. Since last week, local supermarkets have been struggling with half-empty shelves. Because of Brexit, Marks & Spencer trucks got blocked when crossing the Irish Sea from England. The chain has now temporarily stopped delivering hundreds of products to its branches in Northern Ireland.


The problems are mainly a result of poor preparation of English companies for Brexit. Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland continues to apply European customs rules, and many English companies seem unaware of this. "We see English lorries arriving at Belfast port without having filled out a single piece of paper," said Seamus Leheny, chairman of UK transport body Logistics UK.


The effects of Brexit are also being felt elsewhere in the UK. The supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, in particular, is proving problematic, resulting in more empty shelves. This was already the case last week at the Sainsbury's branches in Cambridge and Suffolk, reports the Daily Mail.


Tesco can no longer supply lettuce, cauliflower, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in some regions. Online supermarket Ocado has shortages of carrots and broccoli. Not all problems are a direct result of Brexit. The pandemic, which is hitting the UK hard, is also causing additional delays as some food industry workers have called in sick or are self-isolating.



In France, the shelves of Marks & Spencer are as good as empty, writes French newspaper Le Parisien. Much to the chagrin of loyal customers, the Parisian M&S stores barely have any typically British products left.


Meanwhile, Brexit is also felt in Belgium. Some Belgian supermarkets ran out of fresh salmon last weekend. Some of the salmon comes from Scotland, and since 1 January it takes significantly longer to get distributed due to Brexit red tape at ports.