Tesco chairman warns of price hikes and temporary shortages in no-deal Brexit

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Shoppers may face temporary shortages of some fresh foods and price hikes if the UK fails to secure a trade deal with the European Union, the chairman of Tesco has warned.

John Allan also said shoppers could turn to buying UK-produced items when imported goods jump in price due to import taxes.

He told the BBC import taxes could push the price of brie cheese up by 40% and may mean British shoppers opt for cheddar instead.

Mr Allan warned food bills could climb by 5% on average in the event of a no-deal scenario, with specific products likely to increase significantly more.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday he is "not concerned" about potential food price rises or shortages if the Government fails to strike a trade deal.

But Mr Allan insisted impending tariffs will increase prices.

He told Bloomberg: "Those almost inevitably are going to lead to higher prices, and I think if we go out on a no-deal basis that is unavoidable."

He warned there is likely to be disruption during the transition period which could impact the transport of some foods and lead to empty shelves.

Mr Allan said: "We may see some shortages of fresh foods, particularly short-life fresh foods.

"I think that will only be for a limited period, perhaps a month or two, before we get back to normal.

"I don't think there is any reason at all for any consumer to panic or panic-buy at the moment.

"There is still going to be plenty of food in the UK – there may just be slightly restricted choice for a period of time."

Alongside its grocery competitors, Tesco has been stockpiling long-life items in its warehouses in preparation for a no-deal.

Last month, Sainsbury's raised concerns that the supply of some fish, dairy and meat products to its stores in Northern Ireland could be significantly reduced next year due to Brexit.

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