A no-deal Brexit could have a catastrophic impact on wheat exports, millers have warned.

Although UK exports of flour and mixes hit a five-year high last year, such success would be under threat if the UK leaves the European Union on 29 March without a deal, according to the National Association of British and Irish Millers (Nabim).

Currently, 95% of exports go to EU countries, especially the Republic of Ireland.

Reporting exports of 370,000 tonnes in 2018, valued at more £230m, Nabim director Alex Waugh said exports would be subject to tariffs of around 50% of their value in the event of a no-deal. 

“We expect this will have a catastrophic impact on the trade; the businesses which have invested in growing exports; their staff and customers,” he added. “It must be avoided at all costs.”

Meanwhile, a survey of food and drink businesses by the Food & drink Federation found almost half (45%) felt a no-deal Brexit would present very serious financial challenges, while 12% felt it would threaten the existence of their business.

Also, although 49% believe they have done all they can to prepare for Brexit, they can’t be sure they have covered everything as they feel the Government hasn’t given them key pieces of information.

The export warning comes a week after more than 30 trade associations, including the Federation of Bakers, the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers and the Food and Drink Federation, signed a letter to environment secretary Michael Gove urging the government to pause current and planned consultations.

The letter highlighted that business were “totally focused on working to mitigate the catastrophic impact of a no-deal Brexit”, with large amounts of time, money, people and effort diverted as a result.

“Neither we nor our members have the physical resources nor organisational bandwidth to engage with and properly respond to non-Brexit-related policy consultations or initiatives at this time,” it stated.