Still stockpiling

Will we or won’t we leave the EU with no deal? We can hope that we won’t, and we can deny the possibility but the fact is, at this stage, we still have no idea.
I wrote about this back in January and reactions (unsurprisingly) were mixed.  I confess here and now – my husband thinks that my stockpiling strategy is insane; he is wholly convinced that it is unnecessary.  My daughter, whilst less vociferous in her condemnation, raises a single eyebrow (a feat I have never yet been able to achieve) and reminds me of the Millenium Box. Approaching 1st January 2000, I heeded warnings of possible food shortages (this time due to failing computer systems). Apparently (Daughter’s recollection is clearer than mine on this), the family were warned on pain of death, the dire consequences that would befall them should they dip into my carefully hoarded stores.  I willingly hold up my hands  – I was wrong.  And I wholeheartedly hope that I am wrong once again. Because if I am not, then a great many people are going to suffer: families that cannot afford to stockpile, those who can but may not have the room to store or freeze very much, and those who simply do not grasp, what I consider to be, the very real threat of shortages.
The UK currently grows only around 60% of the food we eat. The EU supplies 40% of our fresh fruit and veg and something like 75% of all our packaged foods. It’s fine to think that if we can’t get X we’ll eat Y, but the fact is, this will put additional pressure on those goods that we do produce ourselves, and with everyone vying to get hold of the same items, this will exacerbate the problem of shortages.  Experts say that it would be possible for the UK to produce all the food we need, but that our eating habits, and farming practices would have to change significantly. The latter couldn’t happen overnight and estimates are that such changes would take several years to the implement.  A further concern is a lack of land workers. Already farmers find it nigh impossible to find UK nationals to pick fruit (currently as few as one person per thousand pickers) and growing greater quantities will require even more people to do it, whilst in the face of uncertainty,  increasing numbers of Eastern European workers are returning to their home countries.
Of course the EU will not want to lose Britain as a customer, and in the longer term I’m sure we will find a resolution but right now it feels to me that they want to ‘teach us a lesson’. I’m not suggesting that we need to hoard months and months worth of foodstuffs, but I’m taking my lead from the major supermarkets, most of which have been steadily stockpiling for the past year.  Does this make me a doom monger? Or am I perhaps the sensible one among most of my friends who, I’ll admit, seem pretty unconcerned by the prospect of shortages? No doubt the Government will assure us that all will be OK, but seriously, who’d put their trust in a body which has done so little to engender it?
Likely, we can source foods from elsewhere, but this could well mean being forced to accept lower standards – chlorination, irradiation and inferior quality produce, whilst increasing imports from our non-EU suppliers will mean rising prices due to the higher costs of transportation. It’s true that we already have trade agreements with other countries, but will they have the capacity to provide us with an increased volume of goods? In time, no doubt, but in the immediate aftermath of Brexit – who knows? Trade agreements with yet other countries will not be set up overnight.
In addition to household essentials such as toilet rolls and cleaning materials (though I guess housework is the last thing on the mind of anyone who is wondering where their next meal will come from), I’ve been building up food stores for some time now. Mindful of use-by dates on certain products,  I do my normal weekly shopping and replace with the newer purchases. Of course, I have many of these items in my general cupboards which are always pretty full , but my Brexit stores are separate.
I’ve attempted to balance my extra stores with protein (pulses and fish):

 

Fruit, veg and grains, oils, vinegars, spreads, gravy powder, coffee and baking ingredients:

 

I started by prioritising and have an ongoing list of other items that still need to be bought. Anyone who knows me from my working life would ask, “Did you do a spreadsheet?” My penchant for these was well known (I even used it as a planning strategy when completing university assignments) , and my husband will confirm that I haven’t changed.  So, yes, I did!  I eased up after the March deadline passed (seduced into thinking that a ‘no-deal’ was less of a threat), and started to use up some of the stores, but as Mrs May’s proposals were repeatedly rejected, I changed my mind.
“Most of our fresh salads, broccoli, tomatoes, avocados, pepper fruits, cauliflower, cabbage, etc., are imported from the EU. The same applies to most of the fresh fruit we consume. Fresh fruit and vegetables are likely to take a hike in price post–Brexit and face restricted availability. Other EU imports include olive oil, anchovies, pasta, rice and tomato paste. Proteins include canned and dried kidney beans, butter beans, black beans, chickpeas and tinned fish like herrings, sardines and tuna. Add to that tinned olives, pickled capers and jarred peppers and a whole range of vegetarian foods like tofu and soya milk. Honey is also imported from the EU.” (www.survival expert)
So laugh if you will. I hope and pray that I’m overreacting and if I am, I’ll laugh with you. It really doesn’t matter because my Brexit store will be full of stuff we eat anyway, so my shopping bill will be lower for a while, and any excess can go to the local food bank.
Interested in reading more?
Link to my earlier post : Are you stockpiling?

15 comments

  1. Hi hun, Yes I have also stockpiled for the Brexit – dried goods, tinned and my freezer is full. We also have an allotment growing fresh produce which we can, freeze and dehydrate yearly to eat through the winter months. Like you I think that if the scaremongering amounts to nothing then I will have quite a few months with a very small food budget. We also make our own laundry soap and bars of soap and have to live a frugal lifestyle. It won’t be wasted food as I have stockpiled what we and our dog eat, so nothing will goto waste. If I am right (I hope not) then I can help out my daughters and their families. I don’t think there is anything wrong in being cautious as no one knows what will happen. I think that you are sensible and totally agree with you. *hugs* Goldensunflower.

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    • Thanks for reading, and for your comments, Goldensunflower. I’m not a lone voice in the wind! It sounds as though you are preparing well.

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  2. I stockpiled for a March exit, lots of tinned pulses, frozen veggies, tinned fruits, evap milk, dried skimmed milk, coffee, basically anything I could think of that came from or via the EU. Once the deadline passed I started to eat the stocks down simply because I find I get irritated with cupboards full to bursting but on the plus side, my food shop costs have been minimal over the last couple of months, just fresh stuff. I’m almost ready to defrost my two freezers and once that’s done, I’ll start using some of the tins in the cupboard to batch cook and re-stock the freezers, then I can re-stock the tinned stuff. I’ve got a 30% off first shop at Ocado offer so shall spend a morning looking at mysupermarket.com to see if using that on tinned goods actually produces any savings over going to Tesco or Morrisons. If it does, I’ll get them to lug my heavy stuff into the house! As you say, worst case scenario you end up with, like I have, a couple of months of cheapo food shops.

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    • The 30% Ocado offer is great. That’s how I started with Ocado. They regularly send offers for 15% off, or £15 off a £60 shop. Some things are a little more expensive, but I balanced that first shop by choosing some of their half price offers.

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  3. I haven’t stockpiled yet but it worth bearing in mind and I think I will start adding a few items to my weekly shopping list and putting them somewhere else (the kitchen cupboard is full!) in the house, so that they are there if no deal is reached.
    Margaret P

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  4. The main threat at the moment is not Brexit.

    If anything kicks off in the Gulf – the price of oil will skyrocket as supplies are threatened – this will knock on to the costs of everything (transport / fertilisers / power to run processing facilities etc)…… so keeping a pantry / stockpile is sensible contingency planning for any number of emergencies.

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    • It’s always been a concern that we are dependent on outside sources. We could so easily be held to Ransome and, as you say, the knock on effect of higher prices will impact on everything. We’re pretty vulnerable all round at the moment.

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  5. No I agree with the above commenter, you’re not being doom mongering. The situation re: Brexit is complex (and don’t start me on a long tirade on how we should never have been given a simplistic question – leave or stay – with no information) and unbelievably still, after all this time, we have no idea how we’re going to leave. And how many people realise that if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed (!) we don’t exactly leave on 31 October as that heralds just the beginning of our negotiations for a trade deal with the EU. (And if we are going to leave the WA is the only way to do it.) However if it is a no-deal, well, that really is a disaster. And yes do stockpile for that. Down the line in a few years or so things might settle. But in the meantime do stockpile. Mind you, you’re stockpiling far more than me as I’m only stockpiling olive oil and Italian pasta!!!!

    No, you’re not over cautious – good for you for seeing the reality!

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  6. I think you are wise to prepare and be ready in case of shortages and increased prices. I believe I commented on your earlier post about why I keep a full pantry – in case of emergencies such as earthquakes that might disrupt food transportation and distribution for extended periods of time.

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    • I’m pretty sure that earthquakes do not pose any great risk to us here in the UK; it must be very scary to live with the threat. As I see it, there is no harm to be done by my storing foods. They won’t be wasted.

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  7. I don’t think you’re doom mongering either and I eventually persuaded my husband that we should start a stockpile too. He’s always been sceptical about a store cupboard and as now he does the shopping I’ve had to do a lot of persuading, but with Brexit he eventally saw the ‘light’. We eased up a few weeks ago, but I think we’ll havve to start again.

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    • I’m not alone then! It’s interesting that also eased up for a while – it’s the uncertainty in so many areas that is hardest about the entire fiasco. I can’t imagine that anyone, whichever way they voted, wanted the situation we have. Time will tell.

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  8. I don’t think you’re doom mongering….I think you’re being practical and sensible. What’s wrong with being prepared? Nothing, of course. And if a crisis doesn’t happen – well, then you’ll have a full larder of food to keep you going for ages, and spare cash in your purse. We’re trying to keep a full larder (and freezer) too.

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