A no-deal Brexit could have "a catastrophic effect" on the UK's food supply, warned a leading hospitality procurement specialist.
The warning came as "a colossal" 21.6% year-on-year increase in non-alcoholic beverage prices in June 2019 pushed up the CGA Presitge Foodservice Price Index to a new record high.
Inflation in mineral water, soft drinks and juices has risen since September 2018, following a swing in drinking habits that has seen adult soft drinks become one of the UK's fastest-growing beverage categories, with one in five adults choosing to not drink alcohol. New innovative brands has led to premiumisation in the category and subsequent high levels of inflation.
By contrast, some foods recorded only small increases in inflation in June. Contrary to the traditional seasonal drop, fruit increased in price after ongoing issues in recruiting fruit pickers in the UK resulted in lower yields, forcing wholesalers to import more from European countries including Italy and Spain. The weak pound has resulted in price inflation.
Shaun Allen, chief executive of Prestige Purchasing, said: "Foodservice price inflation over the next few months is likely to be affected by Brexit, and fears are mounting that a no-deal departure from the EU could have a catastrophic effect on UK food supply.
"Meat could be an especially volatile category, with the National Farmers' Union recently declaring that it could result in the mass slaughter of lambs as the UK cannot consume the amount it produces."
Environment secretary Michael Gove recently warned the National Farmers' Union that the food sector may never recover from no-deal, even if a deal was struck in the future.