The prime minister needs to get a Brexit deal through parliament, as the UK is only ‘four meals away from anarchy’ in the event of no-deal, delegates at the Feeding Cities Summit were told yesterday (21 November).

Speaking at the UKWA event, Stephen Lawrence, CEO of property investment and development firm iSec, quoted MI5’s assessment in regards supply chain resilience from a report conducted after the 9/11 attacks, underlining why a no-deal outcome was not an option.

Ahead of this, UKWA CEO Peter Ward kicked off the summit by reminding people of the scenes of hysteria caused when DHL’s contract to run KFC’s supply chain went very publicly wrong at the start of this year.

“We had people dialling 999 because they couldn’t get their KFC,” said Ward. “The point is that our supply chain has been honed to deliver little and often, and we as consumers have been conditioned to expect this.”

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Lawrence picked this up in an interview section afterwards with Ward. "Population growth in the last 30 to 40 years has been about 20%, and London has virtually doubled.

“There’s been huge growth in eating out, especially in London. There’s 450,000 outlets in London now serving food and beverage of some kind. Everyone expects food. Everyone has a choice."

London and the South East comprises a significant amount of the UK food market (40%) and food security for the country more generally is a concern if there is supply chain disruption. While 50% of food consumed is sourced in the UK, around 30% of food, mostly chilled produce, comes from Continental Europe via the Calais/Dover crossing.

“If you take 30% of food off the table, many will struggle and prices will rise. People would likely horde,” said Lawrence.

“[In regards a Brexit deal] there has to be a fudge as the UK and EU can’t allow anarchy.

“There is simply no way to store all the fresh, or even frozen, food that would allow for this [shortages to be prevented]. The UK supply chain, as is, doesn’t allow for that. It’s a major problem.”