EU Referendum

Brexit fears: the end of locally sourced food?

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit fears: the end of locally sourced food?

Related tags Locally sourced food European union

Licensees have expressed fears that Brexit will cause increased prices of locally sourced food and cause drastic staffing problems in pubs.

Helen Greer, licensee of the Feathers Inn, in rural Hedley-on-the-Hill, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, sources many key ingredients from local farmers.

She said she’s concerned about the impact on leaving the EU will have on farmers in the area who benefit from EU subsidies.

Local ethos challenged

“We only buy our produce from local farmers and we’re heavily dependent on food prices. If their subsidies are reduced they’ll have to put their prices up a lot, and our whole ethos of buying local and ethical will become really challenging,” she said.

“We set up in the countryside to work with that philosophy. It’s going to be worrying a lot of our farmers and it’s worrying us.”

The 'Leave' campaign was victorious in the EU referendum on 23 June, with 51.9% of the vote.

“If Brexit goes ahead, it will have a significant impact. If the economy generally begins to suffer then hospitality is what people cut back on first. I’m trying to be optimistic, and I’m not pessimistic person, but it’s worrying,” Greer added.

Staff shortage

Karen Errington, licensee of the Rat Inn, Anick, Northumberland, said she could see staffing problems in the wake of Brexit.

“We were shocked. In hospitality there are loads of European workers who prop up the industry,” she told The Morning Advertiser​.

Staff shortages will not be an immediate problem for the Rat Inn as they’re less reliant on European workers based in a rural area.

Errington continued: “But it will have an impact, because if all new places need to be filled by UK nationals there will be a smaller pool of people to fill jobs.”

Spending power

The licensee also raised concerns about consumer spending power, but has tried to focus on the potential benefits of Brexit’s impacts.

 “We are staying positive and hoping people still come and spend. There has been no impact right now, people are still coming out and the summertime will be good,” she said.

“We have quite a bit of tourism. If their money will be worth more in the UK we might get more people coming here.”

Emma Harvey, licensee of the Wheatsheaf Inn, No Mans Heath, Cheshire, said she was "totally gutted" by the result of the referendum.


“Financially it’s had a big effect, and that’s trickling down into the purchasing price. I think by the budget next year, our customers will be complaining,” she said.

Harvey vented her frustration with the campaigns in the build-up to the referendum.

“People were badly informed; the media have a huge amount of responsibility for not giving out facts. There were a lot of domestic issues being touted as European issues,” she continued.

Harvey said she believes it will take years to know what impact Brexit could have on the industry.

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