Post-Brexit Britain: The strangest things being stockpiled

No-deal Brexit: What is being stockpiled?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

With just over a month to go until March 29, the government, businesses and the general public have all stepped up their no-deal Brexit preparations.

Uncertainty around how and when Brexit will happen has seen companies across the UK announce plans to stockpile products – with Tesco stocking extra tins, and the owner of Irish cheesemaker, Pilgrims Choice, building up stores of cheddar.

Here are some of the more unusual items being stockpiled as people prepare for post-Brexit Britain.


Body bags

Body bags are currently being stockpiled. Image: Getty

In a letter meant to reassure a constituent, health minister Stephen Hammond said measures had been taken to stockpile body bags if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Alongside bodybags, other medical supplies including vaccines and blood products are also being put to one side, according to the minister.

Writing in his letter, Mr Hammond said: “We know that maintaining continuity of supply of all medical products, including medicines, medical radioisotopes, vaccines, blood products, devices and consumables, after the UK leaves the EU is essential.

“The department is working with its partners across government, in the health sector and in industry to prepare for any possible disruption in the supply chain.

“While this does not mean that we are expecting such disruption, the government is preparing for all exit scenarios.”


Gravy granules

Premier Foods is stocking up on gravy granules. Image: Acabashi

As a "purely precautionary measure" Premier Foods, which owns Bisto, Oxo and Mr Kipling, has said that it intends to stockpile raw materials - including gravy granules.

The company is expecting to spend up to £10m on the preparations, and said that "like all businesses" it had spent several months planning for a range of Brexit outcomes.

"As part of this, Premier Foods have a cross-functional team in place which continues to keep the possible implications to our business under review," Premier Foods said.

"This is purely a precautionary measure as Premier Foods, like all companies, ensures it's prepared for any Brexit scenario."


Rubber gloves

Heathrow Airport are building up a supply of rubber gloves. Image: Getty

Rubber gloves and swabs used to scan airport passengers’ luggage are being stockpiled by London's Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said he was "confident" that day-to-day operations at the airport would carry on as normal, regardless of whether or not a deal is secured.

“The reason I’m confident is that a lot of the things that we were worried about six months ago, like if planes would be able to fly, there have been agreements on both sides that that will happen even in the worst-case scenario,” he said.



WH Smith are reserving six months' worth of pens. Image: Jeffrey Betts

Stationery company WH Smith is stockpiling six months’ worth of pens and notebooks, as they source many of their products from Asia.

WH Smith, which usually holds between three and four months of stock, has said it is topping up supplies to put the company in an “even better position” in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Stephen Clarke, the company's chief executive, told Bloomberg: "We’re used to holding quite a bit of forward cover in terms of stock anyway, so what we’ve done is topped that up a little bit to put ourselves in an even better position should there be congestion at ports."



The UK will not be without Cadbury's chocolate, the brand's owner has claimed. Image: Getty

Cadbury’s owner, Mondelēz International, has said it is building up stocks of ingredients, chocolates and biscuits to ensure the UK will not be without Cadbury's chocolate. 

Hubert Weber, the president of Mondelēz Europe, said: “Like the whole of the food and drink industry in the UK, we would prefer a good deal that allows the free flow of products, as that would have less of an impact to the UK consumer.

“However, we are also preparing for a hard Brexit and, from a buffering perspective for Mondelēz, we are stocking higher levels of ingredients and finished products, although you can only do so much because of the shelf life of our products.

“We have a contingency plan in place to manage [a hard Brexit], as the UK is not self-sufficient in terms of food ingredients, so that could be a challenge.”



Alcohol companies are stepping up vodka and wine stockpiling. Image: Toni Cuenca

Alcohol giant Pernod Ricard has admitted that it is stockpiling vodka and wine in Britain to deal with the “nightmare” of a no-deal Brexit.

Absolut and Campo Viejo are among the brands that are being accumulated, the company has said.  

At a London press conference, the CEO of Pernod’s Scotch whisky business, Jean-Christophe Coutures, described a no-deal Brexit as “the worst possible thing that could happen”.

“We need stability in the way that we move forward, we are in a position where we need stability,” he said. “We believe we are in a good position to deal with the short-term nightmare of what no-deal Brexit will generate.”

He added: “Long-term it is very difficult to anticipate how this will evolve.”


Magnum ice cream bars

Consumers will be guaranteed a supply of Magnum's and Ben & Jerry's. Image: Getty

Unilever announced it was stockpiling Magnum ice cream bars, which are manufactured in Italy and Germany, and pints of the popular Ben & Jerry's.

Chief executive of Unilever Alan Jope, said the company, which also owns Hellmann’s, Persil and Lynx, was holding a few weeks' worth of extra stock in case there was any disruption to supply chains.