Food and drink after Brexit (food supply and laws)

Last updated: 21 November 2019

The UK may be leaving the European Union on or before 31 January 2020.

Brexit may have an effect on the way you live in Scotland.

This may include changes to food and drink supplies.

Brexit has not happened, and many of the details are not yet known or are regularly changing. This page gives the most up-to-date information, but it will be added to and changed over time, so please keep checking back for updates.

Food supplies

While much of the food and drink we have in Scotland is produced within Scotland and the UK, some of it gets imported into the UK from other countries in the EU and beyond.

The Scottish Government is working closely with retailers, the food industry and others across the supply chain to make sure any disruption to the supply of food and drink will be kept to a minimum.

Stockpiling

You may feel that you need to 'stockpile' food, so you have enough to feed you and your family after Brexit. You do not need to do this.

We do not expect any overall shortages of food. Retailers have been building food supplies to ensure there's an adequate food supply across the UK in the event of a 'no deal' situation.

There may be less choice for a while, however. Fresh foods with a short life – like vegetables and fruit – will be affected most, especially if they are not 'in season' in the UK when Brexit takes place. This means most fruit and vegetables will come into the UK from other countries.

As we move into spring and summer, the UK will be able to grow more of its own fruit and vegetables and these shortages should stop.

Any food coming into the UK from outside of Europe shouldn't be affected by Brexit. It may take a little while longer to get into the country because of delays at ports, but there will be no change other than that.

If you're struggling to afford food

Some families in Scotland struggle to be able to afford or access food. This is also known as 'household food insecurity'.

Brexit may lead to some foods becoming more expensive or harder to find, which may affect those who need the most help.

The Scottish Government continues to look at ways to tackle and respond to food insecurity. This includes increasing the Fair Food Fund to £3.5 million in 2019-20 and investing an extra £1.5 million in food redistribution.

If you're worried about not being able to afford food, there are a number of ways you can get help. For example, you may be eligible for a Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grant.

Citizens Advice Scotland gives information on support in your area.

Exporting for food businesses

A 'no deal' situation is likely to affect Scottish food and drink producers who export their goods to EU countries.

Some of these goods (like beef and lamb) could face large tariffs.

Others, like seafood, may have other barriers, like additional certification and delays getting their products to market. This could have a financial impact.

The Scottish Government is working with the industry and others within the supply chain to assess the effects of this disruption and work on ways to make sure the impact is minimal.

The Prepare for Brexit site is designed to help Scottish businesses prepare for Brexit by explaining what they may need to do to be able to continue exporting to the EU.

Food safety and standards

Food Standards Scotland is continuing to prepare for Brexit, to make sure that public health continues to be protected after Brexit.

Most food law in Scotland currently comes from the EU and makes sure food that comes into the country is safe to eat and drink.

Food Standards Scotland is working with the Scottish Government and UK Government to make sure the same protections will continue after Brexit.

It's also working to make sure the public in Scotland are protected from any possible disruption to the supply chain.

The Food Standards Scotland website gives more information on what it's been doing to prepare for Brexit.

More information

More details on food and drink in Scotland will be added to this page as new information on Brexit is available.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other sites you can check for updates:

The content on this site is correct as of today's date and is based on the information available at this time. Regular updates will be made as the Brexit process develops. In the event of a 'no deal', additional advice and information will be given on this site. Please continue to check back for updates.