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Food prices could climb 45% without Brexit trade deal, warns retail group

Campaign: Aodhan Connolly at Stormont
Campaign: Aodhan Connolly at Stormont

By Michelle Weir

Shoppers could be hit with an almost 45% price hike on a number of food items if a trade deal is not agreed before Brexit, a retail organisation has claimed.

Launching its A Fair Deal for Consumers campaign, The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) estimated that households were facing a rise of at least £1.54 on four commonly bought products.

It warned that the price of beef could increase by as much as 37%, cheese by 43%, and broccoli and cabbage by 13%, adding that the cost of a weekly household shop could climb by 3%.

The NIRC's campaign "will ensure that Northern Ireland consumers are front and centre" in the Brexit negotiations, it said.

The organisation also pointed to the differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain households, saying the average household here had less than half the weekly spending power of a similar household across the Irish Sea.

The NIRC, which said the warnings were based on the potential impact of international trade tariffs, called on the Government and the EU to "put consumers first".

Aodhan Connolly, director of the NIRC, said: "The progress made in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU is encouraging, but there is still work to do.

"If the UK leaves the EU with no trade agreement, EU imports into the UK will be subject to World Trade Organisation Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariffs.

"We have crunched the numbers for what an MFN tariff arrangement could mean for the price of a handful of staple foods for shoppers across Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

"There are a number of factors which influence prices, so our figures represent an estimate of the potential price increases we may see.

"Any rises in costs such as new tariffs simply can't be absorbed entirely by retailers.

"The December agreement reached between the UK and EU makes it clear that there will be no barriers for goods leaving Northern Ireland, but it does not give the same assurances to goods coming in

"These figures simply highlight a risk of potential increases that we may see if a satisfactory agreement on tariffs is not reached.

"We are simply concerned with the facts and the need to protect the already hard-pressed Northern Ireland consumer."

Belfast Telegraph