London (CNN)As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms, a food and drinks industry body has warned that shortages could hit within days of Britain's departure from the European Union on March 29.
Food shortages could hit within days of no-deal Brexit
"We could see the random disappearance of products and well-known brands from shelves because supply has been interrupted," Ian Wright, the CEO of the UK Food and Drink Federation, told CNN.
"We won't run out of food, but you will find that your favorite brands are sometimes in short or no supply."
Wright says it's important that food retailers are prepared, but it's not yet time for shoppers to start hoarding supplies.
"Individual customers should keep an eye on what's happening," he says, "they need to wait and see what happens in the next week or two weeks, before they start making any moves."
But many British businesses, as well as consumers, have already begun stockpiling in anticipation of the UK crashing out of the EU, a move that could trigger a sudden imposition of customs barriers and costly trade tariffs on goods traveling between Britain and its biggest trading partner.
The UK is only 60% self-sufficient when it comes to food, according to government figures, and 70% of its food imports come from the EU.
That's led companies like Premier Foods, a major British food manufacturer that makes everything from custard to stock cubes, to increase supplies of ingredients, according to Reuters. Two of Britain's biggest supermarket chains, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, have also announced that they are also boosting stockholdings of non-perishable foods.
"Nestle have said that they are ensuring a continued supply of ingredients, we've also heard that from Ferrero, and from a number of British companies who only operate in the UK, but whose products included important ingredients from Europe," Wright said.
And as businesses bulk up, warehouse space is dwindling. Describing the situation as a "perfect storm," the UK Warehousing Association said in a statement that a straw poll of its members indicated that 75% of warehouse space was already full.
Fears of supermarket shelves laid bare have led some British citizens to start stockpiling themselves as the Brexit deadline approaches.