With a no-deal Brexit looking increasingly likely, British food manufacturers may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of UK consumers.
The negative rhetoric coming out of Brussels may fuel a rise in anti-European feeling which is tragic on a social and political level, but which may be good news for British farmers and manufacturers.
Brexit is an opportunity to ‘Buy British’
In addition, fresh products such as continental cheeses may face shortages due to hold-ups at the border, but even products with a long shelf-life, such as wine, may face a backlash.
This cannot come soon enough for British suppliers, who are facing a slump in exports to EU countries, while other nations across the globe are not queuing up to form free-trade agreements with the UK that would open up other markets.
Besides, some foods that have traditionally been the stronghold of British companies have been coming under threat from products from the UK’s European neighbours.
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British cheddar under threat
Cheese is a case in point. Cheddar remains the mainstay of the UK market and (in the three months to October 2018) was purchased by 86% of households. Yet, consumption dropped by 0.5% in the year to end of July 2018, in contrast with continental-style cheeses: sales of hard continental cheeses were up by 6% while soft continental cheeses achieved a 6.4%.
The UK dairy industry currently produces some 700 varieties of cheese, meaning that it has something to offer for every occasion.
Today is, therefore, the perfect time for the British food industry to launch a major promotional campaign flaunting the wonders of British-made products, appealing to the “Buy British” sentiment currently prevailing.