BREXIT poses “real risks” to the cost, availability and quality of the UK’s food supplies, which the Government has shown little sign of addressing, University of Sussex researchers claim.

A report from the food policy specialists has warned the forthcoming break from Europe will lead to “chaos” unless ministers establish a clear plan on how a new food system will operate.

Currently, the EU props up a huge chunk of Britain’s food supply – providing 31 per cent of its food – which the authors suggest cannot be walked away from without provisions in place.

The researchers launched the 86-page review into how Brexit could impact the country’s food and farming as the Government gears up for the next round of negotiations with Brussels.

It cites recent research by the British Retail Consortium that the absence of a trade deal could push the price of imported food up by 22 per cent.

Stability and security which is enjoyed in both the price and supply of food is partly product of EU-wide safety standards, the authors warn. Even a “soft” departure from Europe, in which the UK will remain in the single market or customs union, could badly affect the food and farming industries, they add.

The findings, published by the science policy research unit at the University of Sussex, identifies 16 issues which it urges Prime Minister Theresa May to consider.

These include a “clear integrated plan for UK food”, new legislation to “replace 4,000 pieces of EU law relating to food” and subsidies to cover the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which the UK is expected to leave.

It also warns that a drain on labour from the continent could rattle the production of food, with 35 per cent of food manufacturing workers said to come from the EU.

The report added: “Prices, which are already rising and likely to rise more, will become more volatile, especially harming poor consumers.”

Negotiations over the nature of Britain’s divorce from the continent will continue on Monday as Brexit Secretary David Davis travels for talks in Brussels.

In the briefing paper released on the eve of the visit, the experts made a call for the public to pressure the Government into making a “new statutory framework for UK food”.

They said in a statement: “The UK’s food system already faces unprecedented challenges on environment and jobs – we see real dangers that these are already being dislocated by Brexit uncertainties. Since the Brexit referendum, UK food and agricultural policy has been in chaos.”

Professors at City University in London and the University of Cardiff also assisted with the report.