Food and drink after EU exit (food supply and laws)

Last updated: 22 March 2019

The UK may be leaving the European Union.

EU exit (also known as Brexit) may have an effect on the way you live in Scotland.

This may include changes to food and drink supplies.

EU exit 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 EU exit. You don't need to do this.

There won't be a food shortage after EU exit. Retailers have been building their food supplies since Christmas, to make sure there's enough food to buy if there's a 'no deal' situation.

There may be less choice for a while, however. Fresh foods with a short life – like lettuce, tomatoes or soft fruit – will probably be affected most, because they aren't 'in season' in the UK in March, which means most will come into the UK from other countries.

As we move into 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 EU exit. 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'.

EU exit 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 £500,000 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 EU exit 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 EU exit, to make sure that public health continues to be protected after EU exit.

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 EU exit.

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 EU exit.

More information

More details on food and drink in Scotland will be added to this page as new information on EU exit 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 EU Exit 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.