The dairy industry could be facing tough times post-Brexit, according to Arla Foods. The dairy cooperative commissioned a report from the London School of Economics (LSE), and has said that if the findings from the report are proven to be true, British consumers could face shortages of dairy. The dairy industry has been in steady decline for several decades, and with veganism increasing exponentially, alternative products are becoming more widely available.
Non-tariff barriers to trade and restricted access to labour post-Brexit could see British consumers find it harder to get butter, yoghurts and cheese, according to an article published by New Food Magazine. The issues that were identified in the LSE report suggest that Brexit could mean it becomes harder to import dairy from Europe, where 98 per cent of the UK’s dairy products come from.
This could mean that plant-based products could have their moment in the limelight, and as new, innovative products are launched onto the market almost weekly, dairy may have had its day. Outcomes of this circumstance would include increased consumer prices on dairy goods, and that production would be increased and farm costs cut.
The news that farm costs may be cut and production increased inevitably holds concerns regarding animal welfare, in an industry that is already incredibly exploitive of cows. UK managing director of Arla Foods, Ash Amirahmadi, said: “The farmers that own the Arla dairy cooperative already balance keeping consumer prices down with maintaining quality and the best standards, including high animal welfare. […] Any disruption means that if we don’t get the practicalities of Brexit right we will face a choice between shortages, extra costs that will inevitably have to be passed on to the consumer or undermining the world-class standards we have worked so hard to achieve.”
Increased costs of dairy could prove challenging for some consumers, who may decide to get alternative products. Plant-based products are easier than ever before to purchase, with vegan items available in all mainstream supermarkets. The health and environmental benefits of eating a vegan diet closely follow the ethical reasons – and more people are becoming aware of the realities about where their food comes from.
As tense Brexit negotiations continue, the repercussions could entail a positive move for the plant-based sector, or increased concern for the welfare of dairy cows.