An underestimated problem

How serious are the consequences of Brexit really? Van Berkum plays it down. “Meat and dairy exports may fall slightly, but in general, the picture is not so dramatic”. “What is problematic is the uncertainty that exists due to the fact that the British government continues to assume that they will get a deal. They’re underestimating the magnitude of the problems that could arise.” Van Berkum reckons that preparations on the Dutch side are on schedule. “The concerns of Dutch companies revolve mainly around the question of whether or not everything is properly organised on the British side of things. We have little insight into that.”

Who's afraid of Brexit?

Less pork

There has been a fall in exports of pork to the UK in the last year. There can be several reasons for that. Van Berkum: “It may be that buyers are already taking Brexit problems into consideration. But on the other hand, the British economy is not flourishing, and pork is quite expensive for the British consumer. We’re seeing a reduction in the consumption of pork as a result.”


The people who have the most to fear from Brexit are Dutch fishers. At present, 40% of their catch comes from British waters. However, in the case of no deal, or unfavourable agreements, they may lose access to the fishing grounds. It’s also still unclear how the fish quota will be divided after Brexit.


In 2016 and 2017, Van Berkum and his colleagues explored various Brexit scenarios. “Wageningen Economic Research is the knowledge centre of the agriculture sector. We provide the government and the agriculture and horticultural sectors with knowledge and information, so that companies can effectively anticipate changing circumstances and remain innovative and competitive”, explains Van Berkum. After the exit date, 29 March, he will be able to analyse the effects of Brexit and how companies in the agriculture sector can best deal with them.

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