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Brexit has increased food bills by £250 per household, new London School of Economics research shows

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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Brexit has hiked up food bills by £250 per household since the UK left the EU in December 2019, according to a new study from London School of Economics.

An earlier version of the paper suggested that leaving the European Union added an extra £210 to household groceries between 31 January 2020 and the end of 2021, but the updated report suggests this figure is now higher.

According to the study, the price of foods imported from the EU in high quantities prior to Brexit has been more exposed to the effects of leaving the union. The research has found that the price of these increased by 3.5 percentage points more than those that were not, between January 2022 and March 2023.

It also shows food prices went up by nearly 25 percentage points between December 2019 and March 2023. Researchers suggest this figure would be eight percentage points (around 30%) lower if Brexit had not happened.

Products with high non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are said to have driven the increase. This includes meats and cheeses imported from the EU which have seen prices go up by around 10 percentage points more in comparison to similar products which haven’t been affected by Brexit red tape since January 2021, when the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was first applied.

The price increases are not related to other events like the COVID pandemic or the Russia-Ukraine war, say the London School of Economics researchers. With the results being propelled by high NTBs on produce imported from the EU, they believe there is strong evidence to show Brexit is significantly increasing the cost of food.

Grocery prices rose 17.2% from a year ago in the four weeks to May, according to Kantar, which is down from the 17.3% recorded in April. Despite the drop, the figure is still the third fastest grocery inflation rate the data analytics company has seen since 2008, and is expected to add an extra £833 to the average household’s annual grocery bill.

The UK Government Chancellor Jeremy Hunt met with food producers this week in light of the growing concern around rising grocery bills. He also met with the Competition Markets Authority, following its announcement of plans to investigate weakening competition in the grocery market and assess its contribution to skyrocketing food prices.

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