Food Supply: North East

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the Operation Yellowhammer document, what plans are in place for the adequate supply and distribution of food to the North East in the event of disruptions to supply resulting from the UK leaving the EU without a deal; and to what extent those plans account for the potential effect of food price increases on low income groups.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The UK has a high level of food security built upon a diverse range of sources including strong domestic production and imports from other countries. This will continue to be the case whether we leave the EU with or without a deal. While we are making sensible preparations for all eventualities, there are no plans for the Government to either store food or reroute supplies. The expertise, capability and levers to plan for and respond to food supply disruption lies with the industry. This includes looking at alternative supply routes and suppliers.

The Government has well established ways of working with the food industry on food supply chain issues and we are using these to support preparations for leaving the EU. This includes working with Defra’s long established Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group, which allows Government and industry to work together to plan for and respond to any food supply disruption.

The most important drivers of change in the cost of food on an ongoing basis are commodity prices, exchange rates and oil prices. This will continue to be the case once the UK has left the EU; the UK Government has no direct control of these factors.

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