With or without Brexit, UK's food self-sufficiency problem remains
"Will Britain become more self-sufficient in food post-Brexit? The short answer is, who knows" - is the main conclusion that AHDB experts are sharing just weeks before Brexit. With or without a deal, Great Britain is hardly covering the demand in the domestic market in many sectors.
"For those sectors less than 100% self-sufficient, it will not be as simple as increasing production. The market value, competitiveness against imports and processing capacity will all play a part in the ability to increase production. For livestock, carcass balance issues will mean while improving in demand cuts/products, those not in domestic demand would also be increased so export markets will be key to get the most value out of the carcass," it is said in the report.
Even for lamb, which is 100% self-sufficient in volume basis, the need for imports is reflected by the consumer's preference for legs rather than shoulders.
If increased production is an option then import displacement would, for most areas, be needed. While for some elements this could be achieved, there will still be a need to import products Great Britain do not produce/produce to the level other countries do. The level of opportunity for import displacement will also depend on the tariff schedule the UK adopts post-Brexit.
While a higher degree of self-sufficiency allows more ability to adapt to changes, it is not that straight forward. Ability to export, export tariffs, non-tariff measures, etc. could affect value while there could also be a threat of cheaper imports from lower cost producers.