British supermarkets angry: "Don't blame us for empty shelves"

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British retailers angrily responds to Boris Johnson's promise that there would be no shortage of food after a no deal brexit. They point out that they can not indefinitely stockpile supplies every time a deadline day gets near.


Overflowing warehouses

The British food industry sector is opposing minister Michael Gove's promises: the responsible for mitigating the chaos after a no deal brexit had promised that there would be no shortage of fresh produce as he would require retailers to stockpile food items - a demand the retailers condemn sharply. The sector has been preparing for a no deal brexit for over a year now, including stockpiling food items. Still, a hard brexit without a deal with the European Union will certainly have dire consequences, representatives of the sector told Reuters.


On average just a third of British food is produced in the European Union, but during autumn and winter months that share becomes a lot bigger. It is almost impossible to stockpile fresh produce, and warehouses are already full of non-perishable food that was bought 'en masse' for the first brexit deadline in March. Market leader Tesco has already said it has 200 million pounds of extra food in its warehouses and is therefore unable to increase its stocks even further.


Supermarkets "not responsible"

Retailers' duty is to safeguard the retail sector, not to assume responsibility for what is actually the government's task, heads of retail chains have stated. They have the feeling that the government wants to shift the blame towards them as it wants to convince the public that there is no shortage risk whatsoever, if everybody takes the right preparations. Marks & Spencer director and former Sainsbury's CEO Justin King however says shelves will be empty within days as soon as half of the truck transports is delayed.


Lineage UK has told Reuters that all of its warehouses have reached or surpassed maximum capacity, and that the system has been showing cracks with the arrival of the first brexit deadline last March. At that time quite a few food deliveries failed as logistical companies said some warehouses were already so full that actually retrieving food from them became a lot slower. The companies also warn that next October may be even worse, as "the last brexit deadline, we were coming out of a relatively quiet period whereas this is slap bang in the busiest time of year", a Lineage UK spokesperson told Reuters.


Supermarkets have already asked suppliers to also start stockpiling their products and are in the process of purchasing vegetables with a longer shelf-life, like carrots and potatoes.