Unless a free trade agreement is in place with the EU, a leading trade organization has warned, shoppers will face higher prices for their weekly purchases due to mammoth tariffs.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said supermarkets and their shoppers will receive an annual customs bill of £ 3.1 billion for food and beverages.
The industry group said retailers would “have nothing to do but raise the price of groceries” to lower tariffs if there is no agreement before Christmas.
It is said that many non-food retailers will also face “high tariffs” on products imported from the EU, adding to the cost for businesses and their customers in trouble.
Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at BRC, said: “If we don’t negotiate a zero tariff deal with the EU, the public will face higher prices for their weekly shop.
“This would prevent buyers, retailers and the wider economy from suffering damage.”
The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner and the source of four fifths of UK food imports, according to the BRC.
In May the UK released its new tariff plan, which will be implemented until January 1st next year if no agreement is reached.
According to the schedule, 85% of food imported from the EU will be subject to tariffs of more than 5%, while the average tariff rate for food imported from the EU would be over 20%.
The numbers indicated that we are likely to see a 48% duty on ground beef, 16% on pickles and 10% on lettuce.
The latest monthly retail price index for August found fresh food prices up 0.2%, while food inflation in the area accelerated to 2.8% during the month.
Earlier this month, Morrisons boss David Potts said food prices would rise in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Mr Opie said: “UK consumers have enjoyed great value, quality and variety of food thanks to our ability to trade duty free with the EU duty free.
“There is no time to lose, the UK and the EU need to reach a final agreement as soon as possible.
“Coronavirus is already making life difficult for consumers, especially those on lower incomes, and a no-deal Brexit will have a massive impact on their ability to afford essential goods.”