Chiswick restaurants react to new Brexit rules expected to drive up food prices

Image above: Dinner at Little Bird

New paperwork will be required from now for animal and plant products

Food prices in the UK have risen significantly over the past twelve months due to the cost of living crisis, but new rules governing imports following Brexit is expected to make prices rise even further.

The UK has delayed border checks on goods coming from Europe five times since leaving the EU, but as of 31 January these new checks on EU businesses sending animal and plant products to the UK have now been implemented.

Health certificates will be required for ‘medium and high risk foods’. High risk items include live animals and eggs for hatching. Products such as milk, cheese, fish and meat are classed as medium risk.

Nearly half of what we eat in the UK comes from abroad and nearly two-thirds of that comes from the EU, which means the price of food will rise for UK consumers.

Image above: Homayoun Fahimipour in Mali’s cafe

Chiswick business owners worried they will lose customers over price hikes

Homayoun Fahimipour, owner of Nikki’s Bakery and Mali’s cafe-delicatessen

The Chiswick Calendar spoke to local business owners who rely on imports from the EU. Homayoun Fahimipour owns Nikki’s Bakery and Mali’s cafe, both on Chiswick High Rd. He told the Chiswick Calendar:

“I fear that if I increase my prices I will lose customers. There is too much competition in Chiswick for us not to worry about even just one customer. I have not increased my prices since December 2022 but I realise if my produce continues to rise then I will be left with no choice.”

Homayoun says it is not just the new Brexit rules which are putting pressure on prices for businesses:

“There are three factors for me: the cost of living, the referendum and the Covid pandemic. The combination of those three things has meant businesses are failing all the time.”

“My friends came to me and asked for tips on how to open a coffee shop. I told them not to bother, it’s not worth it, you’ll end up closing quickly in the current market. We are different from Costa and other chains on the high street, we are independent and rely on our local customers.”

Image above: Mali’s cafe-delicatessen

Supplier prices are increasing all the time

The news of further expected increases comes as no surprise to Homayoun.

“We have already seen the effects of the price increases. Salmon has gone up by 25% in the past few weeks. When I opened my first business smoked salmon was £6, in most places it’s now £15, and others even £25.

“Olive oil has also gone up in price and these are two key ingredients for a lot of our products and we rely on them so price increases might be necessary. The weather also hasn’t helped us because of the drought in Spain.”

It is not just the price of food which is going up, but essential supplies such as hygiene products as well.

“Our suppliers tell us they can’t keep up. We’re put in situations where prices increase and we only find out afterwards. It got to the point where we had weekly increases and it is difficult for us.”

“We would find that hygiene products that would cost closer to £5 before, like gloves, were costing double that and in some places even more. This had a knock on effect as we found paying for basics cost us a lot of money.

“We will have to increase prices, eventually. We hope customers understand and realise this isn’t because we are greedy because we aren’t.”

Image above: Lorraine Angliss, owner of Annie’s, Little Bird and Rock and Rose

Lorraine Angliss, owner of Annie’s, Little Bird and Rock and Rose

Lorraine Angliss owns three businesses in Chiswick: Annie’s, Little Bird and Rock and Rose. She told us:

“The impact has been profound for two main reasons: Food and drinks costs and staffing issues.

“Food and drinks costs have risen 25/30% and we are finding that availability for some products to be scarce. The price increase is affecting just about every product we use, including labour costs.

“There is also limited availability on alcoholic wines and other food products.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar