Latest Brexit news says a hasty and disorderly no-deal Brexit will push Britain into the chaos of food shortages that may last weeks or months. The U.K is planning to leave the European Union on 31 October.

The food shortage will be mainly on fresh foods such as perishable produce that would start rotting in lorries at ports in the absence of a transition deal with the European Union, according to the food and drink lobby of Britain.

“We’re not going to starve but there will be shortages of fresh food and some specialist ingredients. It’s going to be a little bit unpredictable,” said the Food and Drink Federation’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Rycroft.

Season of winter and Halloween

Late October is a very sensitive time as it marks the approaching winter and the time when the U.K will rely more on imported food before Christmas. That makes a no-deal Brexit during Halloween potentially more disruptive.

Britain imports 60 percent of its food by the beginning of November. Fresh fruit and vegetables with a shorter shelf-life cannot be stored infinitely. Checks at Calais in France could lead to significant disruption at Dover, Britain’s biggest port.

The UK food industry has half-a-million personnel across 7,000 businesses including big brands such as Associated British Foods, Tesco, Nestle, and PepsiCo.

The food industry views Brexit as its biggest challenge since World War Two.

According to Rycroft, the estimated cost of preparing for a no-deal exit would cost the food industry 100 million pounds ($121 million) a week. This will include expenses on reserving warehouse space, finding alternative distributors and cost of lost orders in congested ports.

Forego competition rules to face the emergency

The trade body also urged the government to waive competition rules so that retailers and suppliers can work together to provide the best coverage for the country in the emerging situation.

Rycroft said the industry wanted assurance from the government that companies would not be fined for engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

The October Brexit deadline has brought retailers under more pressure. Many of them already spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit ahead of the original deadline of March 29.

This time too, there is still no clarity on how the Brexit will work out. Speculations are rife that there may be a last-minute exit deal or the exit may get delayed further or an acrimonious exit happen with added friction in the channels of trade.

Government assures support to the industry

However, the British government sought to reassure businesses. A spokesman said the government would support the industry.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, Conservative candidate for Uxbridge celebrates on stage following his win as he attends the count at Brunel University London in Uxbridge, England, May 8, 2015. Getty Images/ Matt Cardy

“The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October and our top priority is supporting consumers and businesses in their preparations for Brexit.”

Brexit supporters say there is no point in exaggerating some short-term disruption from a no-deal exit.

They say the short term pain can make the UK thrive after the divorce from the EU. Remaining in the EU bloc has made Britain go behind China and the United States, they point out.

No deal exit looks imminent

Meanwhile, the latest reports suggest that despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson describing a no-deal Brexit as “vanishingly small” the default position points to a no-deal exit.

So far Johnson has refused to meet his European Union counterparts insisting that they remove the Irish backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement, which the EU has sternly refused.