Michael Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday (1 September) that “everyone will have the food they need” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October.
"There will be no shortages of fresh food," he added.
When pressed on whether leaving without a deal would mean prices rises, Gove said: "I think there are a number of economic factors in play.
“Some prices may go up. Other prices will come down."
Responding to the claims, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said no-deal would mean “the worst of all worlds” for the high street.
“It is categorically untrue that the supply of fresh food will be unaffected under a no deal Brexit,” said a BRC spokesperson.
“The retail industry has been crystal clear in its communications with Government over the past 36 months that the availability of fresh foods will be impacted as a result of checks and delays at the border.
“The BRC’s own assessment has shown that soft fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, tomatoes and lettuces, would likely see reduced availability as they are largely imported during the winter months.”
Wider industry concerns
Restaurateurs have also raised concerns about the impact of no-deal on supply chains.
Monika Linton, founder of the Brindisa Spanish restaurant group and retailer, told BigHospitality the business has hired extra warehouse space to stockpile goods.
D&D London purchasing director Paul O’Shaughnessy said the restaurant group was planning to avoid conventional European trade roots, such as importing via Rotterdam rather than northern France, and looking at sourcing more supplies in the UK.
Meanwhile the Government has launched its ‘Get ready for Brexit’ portal on its website. Individuals or businesses can answer questions and receive advice on what they need to do ahead of the UK’s departure.