Chocolate Shortages


A no deal Brexit could lead to UK chocolate shortages, as leaving the European Union without a trade agreement would have implications on imports.

A UK-wide referendum happened on June 2016, in which 52% voted in favour of leaving the EU. After a general election and subsequent extensions, the UK Parliament finally submitted the withdrawal agreement, and the UK left the EU as of 31 January 2020.

They were given a year for a transition period and the UK government has to leave the EU by 31 December. Import tariffs are likely to be introduced, leading to price increases.

Ultimately, this could lead to consumers panic buying, and as demand increases, this will also lead to further rise in prices.

Statistics showed $2.1 Billion of chocolate was imported to the UK during 2018-2019.

Chocolate supplies could become an issue because the cocoa beans are delivered through EU ports. For example, Mars brings its cocoa beans into the U.K. via Rotterdam port which then get processed in factories in the Netherlands and Germany.

The UK imports 40% of its food and 30% of that comes from Europe. Leaving the EU could lead to delays getting the produce across border control.

Tim Rycroft, Chief Operating Officer for the Food and Drink Federation said,

If you’re trying to make a chocolate bar that has 12 ingredients, you’ve got to have all 12 ingredients at your factory on the day you make it. If that one thing doesn’t get through, that can cause problems.

The impact on different sectors could also be a factor, with artisan chocolatiers perhaps faring differently from mainstream producers. Bean to Bar chocolates will often use fewer ingredients for their high quality products, yet they also may not able to get cocoa through the ports, and stockpiling is probably a limited option.

On the other hand, people in a recession, while they like to keep some treats such as chocolate, they tend to move toward the cheaper end, which will put a strain on larger companies if their supply is constrained.

As seen during the Covid pandemic, empty shelves and shortages were seen across UK supermarkets due to panic buying. With an uncertainty of Brexit, we can only imagine what the supermarket shelves will look like by the end of the year.


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