A senior executive at a major food retailer has told the BBC it is considering introducing rationing.

The aim appears to be to prevent firms that have not made their own no-deal Brexit plan from using food retailers as wholesalers, which it says has happened in the past when shortages have occured.

He told the BBC: “One potential problem is that businesses who are struggling with their supply chains effectively use ours.

“We would need to limit the amount restaurants or convenience stores, for example, that are short of stock could buy.

“We wouldn’t use the word rationing but that is effectively what it is. Limiting the volumes small businesses can purchase so that our retail customers get a chance to get what they need.”

This announcement comes shortly after government documents were leaked warning Britain of possible food shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

There is reported concern amongst many UK shoppers regarding the prices and availability of products, with many retailers worrying that businesses will turn to supermarkets as they arguably have the most sophisticated supply logistics.

John Perry, managing director of supply chain and logistics consultancy, SCALA, told Food Management Today why rationing may in fact be a sensible move for retailers looking to keep their customers front of mind. “Given the current volatile climate, retailers limiting the volume of sales per item would be a prudent approach in order to ensure their loyal customers aren’t adversely affected by Brexit disruption.

“A large proportion of our ambient and chilled food products come from Europe. While ambient products tend to have reasonably long shelf life and can thus be stockpiled – at a cost – this is not an option for chilled products, which are short shelf-life. This is where the major retailers will be better prepared, although they may still struggle to maintain supply.

“The danger is that, should smaller, less-organised supply chains fail and customers then try to buy through the larger retailers – effectively using them as a wholesaler – availability will be reduced for the supermarket’s usual customers. If this were allowed to happen the retailer could finish up with aggrieved customers, diminished stock and damaged future prospects – essentially through no fault of their own.”