Brexit Threatens British Ice Cream Imports

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Tyler Cowen points to the following tidbit in the Financial Times:

The plummeting pound is threatening UK households’ supplies of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Marmite spread, as Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket, pulled dozens of products from sale online in a row over who should bear the cost of the weakening currency.

Unilever has demanded steep price increases to offset the higher cost of imported commodities, which are priced in euros and dollars, according to executives at multiple supermarket groups. But Tesco signalled it would fight the rises, removing Unilever products from its website and warning that some of the items could disappear from shelves if the dispute dragged on.

Um, what? Tesco thinks that if the pound falls, prices on imported items shouldn’t change? How do they figure that? Then again, maybe it’s nothing:

An executive at another consumer goods manufacturer said Unilever would probably regard Tesco’s action as a negotiating tactic rather than a serious threat.

Roger that. But in the long run, there’s no getting around this. A weak currency means cheaper exports and more expensive imports. You can try to jam a finger in the dike for a little while, but eventually you have to give in.

I don’t know what the long-term impact of Brexit will be. I suspect it will be moderately negative on several levels, and in particular, will probably hurt the blue-collar workers who were suckered into voting for it. Rage-based voting rarely does anyone any good. In the short-term, however, the impact will be unambiguously bad. Prices of imports will go up before the benefits of rising exports work their way through the economy, and uncertainty over Britain’s final status will paralyze lots of decisions from foreign firms about whether they should continue to invest there. This will all shake out in the end, but there will be some pain in the meantime.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate