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Original research
Anticipated impacts of Brexit scenarios on UK food prices and implications for policies on poverty and health: a structured expert judgement approach
  1. Martine Jayne Barons1,
  2. Willy Aspinall2
  1. 1 Department of Statistics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2 Scool of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martine Jayne Barons; Martine.Barons{at}


Introduction Food insecurity is associated with increased risk for several health conditions and with poor chronic disease management. Key determinants for household food insecurity are income and food costs. Whereas short-term household incomes are likely to remain static, increased food prices would be a significant driver of food insecurity.

Objectives To investigate food price drivers for household food security and its health consequences in the UK under scenarios of Deal and No-deal for Britain’s exit from the European Union. To estimate the 5% and 95% quantiles of the projected price distributions.

Design Structured expert judgement elicitation, a well-established method for quantifying uncertainty, using experts. In July 2018, each expert estimated the median, 5% and 95% quantiles of changes in price for 10 food categories under Brexit Deal and No-deal to June 2020 assuming Brexit had taken place on 29 March 2019. These were aggregated based on the accuracy and informativeness of the experts on calibration questions.

Participants Ten specialists with expertise in food procurement, retail, agriculture, economics, statistics and household food security.

Results When combined in proportions used to calculate Consumer Price Index food basket costs, median food price change for Brexit with a Deal is expected to be +6.1% (90% credible interval −3% to +17%) and with No-deal +22.5% (90% credible interval +1% to +52%).

Conclusions The number of households experiencing food insecurity and its severity is likely to increase because of expected sizeable increases in median food prices after Brexit. Higher increases are more likely than lower rises and towards the upper limits, these would entail severe impacts. Research showing a low food budget leads to increasingly poor diet suggests that demand for health services in both the short and longer terms is likely to increase due to the effects of food insecurity on the incidence and management of diet-sensitive conditions.

  • Brexit
  • food prices
  • Consumer Price Index
  • structured expert judgement
  • uncertainty

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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  • Contributors MJB conceived the study and organised the workshop and experts’ participation. WA advised MJB on the elicitation and acted as a neutral independent facilitator for the elicitation and processed the experts’ responses. MJB provided information for contextualising the elicitation findings, and both authors jointly wrote the paper.

  • Funding The workshop was funded by the Warwick Global Research Priority for Food. The study is part of work undertaken for EPSRC grant number EP/K007580/1.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. The first author may be contacted for requests for data or information used in this study.

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