The food and food retail industries fear that Brexit could lead to a lack of stock on supermarket shelves as EU nationals flee the UK.

Nearly half (47%) of the businesses surveyed by industry bodies including the BRC and the National Farmers’ Union said that EU nationals were considering leaving the UK due to the uncertainty, brought about by Brexit, surrounding their future.

Almost one third (31%) said that they had already seen EU nationals leave since the referendum in June 2016.

Worryingly, over one third (36%) of businesses said they would become inviable if they had no access to EU workers and 17% said they would consider relocating outside the UK if that scenario occurred.

Two million EU nationals work in the UK, with 20% working in the food and drink industries.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the BRC, said: “The UK’s post-Brexit labour market and immigration policies should be framed to support domestic firms, including retailers, to access the skills they need.”

He added that a sudden drop in EU worker numbers would result in “significant disruption” and could affect product availability and cause prices to rise.