Hard Brexit would cost jobs and increase prices, Mars boss warns

The boss of food giant Mars has warned that a hard-Brexit would jeopardise jobs at the firm and increase the price of it products.

Mars president of global food, drink and multisales, Fiona Dawson, said leaving the EU with no trade deal will push up prices and threaten jobs.

Addressing the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union today, Dawson warned that trade barriers between the UK and Europe would damage the US firm’s EU supply chain.

She said: “The return of those barriers would create higher costs which would threaten that supply chain and the jobs that come with it.”

Her comments follow warnings from the car industry and the financial services sector about the dangers of a hard Brexit.

Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, Dawson said, accounting for 16 percent of the UK’s total output – nearly as much as the automotive and aerospace industries combined.

Mars, which produces brands such as Dolmio, Whiskas, Uncle Ben’s and Snickers, employs more than 18,000 people across the EU and has a workforce of 3,800 in the UK.

Its EU operations network depends on tariff and barrier free movement of raw materials and finished products across borders in order for them to be packaged, distributed and sold throughout the single market.

If the UK is forced to use World Trade Organisation rules there will 30 percent tariffs for confectionary, as well as charges of 20 percent for animal products, 15 percent for cereals and 10 percent for fish and fruit, Dawson said.

She said, “Unfortunately there is no way that those costs could be absorbed without flowing through to consumers in the form of higher prices.”

Dawson said Mars is committed to the UK but warned that a trade deal needs to be struck to prevent a downturn.

“There can be no economic advantage either side restricting trade with a large market situated on its doorstep,” she said.

“In simple terms, if the UK and the EU fail to agree on a new preferential deal, it will be to the detriment of all. Yet that realisation may not be sufficient to produce an agreement.”

This week the Confederation of British Industry warned that leaving the EU with no deal would open a “Pandora’s Box”.