Packets of Birds Eye frozen fish fingers

A no-deal Brexit will lead “virtually instantaneously” to price rises on popular food products in shops, the head of Birds Eye in the UK has warned.

The frozen food specialist’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, Wayne Hudson, said manufacturers would have to pass tariffs of up to 20% on to retailers, who would themselves have to decide how much of the extra cost to pass on to shoppers.

Mr Hudson said the uncertainty around Brexit was “seriously delaying our ambitious plans for continued growth” and imposing additional costs, with four of the company’s senior executives focused entirely on contingency planning.

It remains unclear whether EU27 countries will be “accommodating” to exports of UK manufacturers’ products after Brexit, he warned.

In an article in The Grocer magazine, Mr Hudson said: “There is now a dense fog and a serious sense of unease that the entire food industry is having to navigate.

“Here at Birds Eye, we are the strongest we have been in years. However, instead of focusing all our energy on making this business even better, an increasing and considerable amount of people and financial resource is being dedicated to Brexit contingency planning and ensuring continuity of supply.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hudson said: “If we crash out on March 29 without a deal it does mean that World Trade Organisation tariffs will be applied.

“If you look at our portfolio of goods, that could range from anywhere between 2% and 20%. That is a significant new cost.





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