Tesco has warned it faces an uncertain Christmas trading period as a result of the latest Brexit deadline.
Speaking to the BBC, Dave Lewis said the 31 October deadline will cause problems because supply networks will be full of Christmas stock, and there will be “less capacity” for long-life products.
Mr Lewis said Tesco had increased stocks of long-life products for the initial deadline of 29 March, but stressed it would be “more difficult” to do the same this time around. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, where tariffs and checks would apply to many products, the supermarket boss said supplies of some products would be interrupted.
He said: “We’ll do whatever is practical depending on how things develop between now and then.
“But the challenge will always be those things which are shorter life – fresh produce. That’s what the UK imports quite a lot of.”
Mr Lewis also warned that shoppers could face empty shelves if a no-deal scenario is not managed well. He added: “Empty shelves depends on what no-deal means. If there’s a problem at the border, if there’s a problem with tariffs then there could be interruption.
“If as part of no deal there is no tariff, there is no problem. We could be absolutely fine.”
He did argue that a no-deal Brexit does present an opportunity for the UK to reevaluate and “take stock”. He said: “It may be a good time for the UK to… decide, actually: what food do we want to eat, with what impact on health, with what impact on the environment.
“Having a food strategy for the country would be a very good outcome.”