Shoppers braced for post-Brexit food shortages, says HIM

empty shelves

Almost two-thirds (61%) of shoppers expect there to be food shortages as a result of Brexit.

That’s according to an online survey of 1,000 consumers conducted by shopper insight agency HIM in August 2019.

Some 14% of shoppers have already begun stockpiling with just 10 weeks to go until the 31 October deadline.

Fruit & Veg is the category with the biggest concern, with 41% of consumers who believe there will be shortages expecting fresh produce to be affected. Close behind was meat with 28%, over-the-counter medicine with 25% and fish 23%.

Furthermore, 30% of consumers plan to stockpile products ahead of the exit date, with tinned foods (17%), frozen foods (11%) and over-the-counter medication (10%) the most popular categories.

In comparison, only 39% of consumers thought there would be shortages in a similar HIM poll conducted ahead of the original 29 March Brexit deadline. At that point only 11% of consumers were stockpiling products.

With regards to overall consumers, 43% believe Brexit provides an opportunity for stores to stock more British products, 42% believe that there are enough countries around the world that want to trade with the UK, so food shortages will not happen any time soon and 39% believe reports around food shortages are just trying to scare consumers.

Val Kirillovs, Research & Insight Director at HIM and MCA Insight, said: “Shoppers are more pessimistic about the outcome of Brexit now than they were prior to the original March deadline. To avoid irrational consumer behaviour, retailers, suppliers and wholesalers can work together to keep refining plans for different scenarios and keep reassuring shoppers ahead of the outcome of 31 October.

“In every difficult situation we should look for hidden opportunities, we know that nearly half of consumers believe Brexit provides a great opportunity for retailers to champion local, British products. There is an opportunity for retailers to shout about the origin of their produce and generate optimism amongst their shopper base.”