DairyReporter Brexit poll reflects uncertainty

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

The results for the DairyReporter Brexit survey are in - and the uncertainty around the entire process extends into the dairy industry. Pic: ©iStock/Issaurinko
The results for the DairyReporter Brexit survey are in - and the uncertainty around the entire process extends into the dairy industry. Pic: ©iStock/Issaurinko

Related tags United kingdom European union Uk

The DairyReporter Brexit survey results are in, and it seems that – not unlike the rest of the world – respondents are split as to exactly what the UK leaving the EU might potentially mean.

On the question as to whether UK food prices will increase post Brexit, 28% strongly agreed that UK food prices would increase post Brexit, 39% agreed. Only 20% disagreed with the statement, with 6% saying they strongly disagreed.

Slightly more than 31% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Brexit would mean less red tape for their business, more than 54% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

More than half (57%) believed that Brexit would negatively affect their business. Almost 9% were unsure; those confident that their business would not be negatively impacted accounted for just under 34%.

Maintaining EU standards

As to whether Brexit would open up new markets for their company’s goods, slightly more than 26% thought this would be the case, 59% said it would not open up new markets.

There was little concern that Brexit would mean a rush of cheap imports into the UK, with only slightly more than 20% saying this would be the case. Less than half (48% believed there would be a supply chain disruption).

More than 66% believe that the UK will continue to apply EU food, beverage and feed legislation, and there is little concern that safety standards will decline, with only 14% concerned that this will occur.

Labor and job issues

Opinion was split on whether Brexit will result in businesses facing significant EU tariffs - 42% believed they would (agree/strongly agree). Reflecting the uncertainty, 24% weren’t sure.

That uncertainty was also clear on investment and employment issues.

Slightly more than 46% thought Brexit would result in lower sales volume, 39% disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 14% weren’t sure.

On job losses, 32% thought there would be job losses at their company, 49% believed there wouldn’t be, and 18% were unsure.

Respondents from 24 countries took part in the survey

On sourcing unskilled labor, 48% believe there will be issues, while 41% saw no such difficulties.

Half think Brexit means less opportunity

The statement ‘Brexit will leave the UK dairy sector more self-sufficient’ led to another balanced series of responses, 41% said yes, 39% said no, and 20% were unsure at this stage.

For those who saw relocation of their company as applicable, more than 29% of those able to answer the question said they’d consider relocation. Slightly more than 42% said relocation was not a consideration.

On potential opportunities arising out of Brexit, this was an opportunity for respondents to comment. Of those comments, exactly 50% believed there were no opportunities, and 35% said there were opportunities.

Comments on opportunities

“Sales generated outside of the UK (90%) will have higher impact due to lower £ exchange rate and thus higher than forecasted revenue and profit in short term,” ​one person wrote with respect to opportunities.

Some saw Russia and other markets as being ripe with potential, and the development of a more buy British mindset and more British products in UK stores.

“Hopefully home-produced milk and milk products can replace the huge quantities of imported ones,”​ one respondent believed.

Another added that overall costs in Britain would be less, and that the EU is a sink-hole of money with zero relative benefits.

One said that there was greater opportunity for Europeans from Brexit, wishing the UK “good riddance.”

Overall opinions

In the general comments section, of those who added comments, 50% thought Brexit was negative, while 42% saw positivity in the move – from both inside and outside the UK.

One respondent wrote, “It was about time! It was ignorant… to vote to join in 1975!”

Another, who wondered if the UK was ever truly in the EU, said “I feel new trade agreements will
exist. Maybe the UK will not receive some subsidies but on the other hand, think of all the money that the UK will now not have to pay.”

However, one respondent saw issues, saying, “During difficult or uncertain economic times, one of the first budgets to be scaled back is marketing - this could mean a real tightening of belts in our sector.”

A breakdown of the number of employees in the companies of respondents.

Another was more critical, saying, “A lack of understanding of the EU has led to a potentially disastrous decision being made by the electorate. Fewer opportunities for British people and businesses.”

One comment thought that the UK and Europe would be better off, noting that, “I think European Union needs a good shake up.”

Another saw opportunity for smaller dairy operations, saying, “The dairy industry had already largely sold out to European global players who are not interested in exporting dairy products because they already make them there . This could help UK producers and UK-owned smaller companies with a lower exchange rate to export.”

One person didn’t hold back on expressing that there would be a better Europe without the UK, saying, “…it will be at last possible to make up a true EU federation. The heck with England.”

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