Concern: Supply chain, social implications

Proper prepping 101

These preppers are worried about filling their refrigerators and freezers to prepare for gaps in fresh produce and foodstuffs. They also want to avoid people panic buying at the shops, who they fear will become aggressive and confrontational when they see empty shelves. Since nearly a third of all the UK's food comes from Europe—much of it fruits and vegetables—the fresh produce supply chain depends significantly on the free and rapid movement of products from farms on the continent to plates in the UK. A no-deal exit will mean border delays and tariffs.

Squash is a concentrated syrup used to make juice.

In the forums, pasta and toilet roll were brought up the most often.

  • Tea bags
  • Toilet roll toilet paper
  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Tinned beans canned beans
  • Tinned soup
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Tinned sweetcorn
  • Tinned peaches
  • Coffee
  • Lentils
  • Sugar
  • Bread flour
  • Dried yeast
  • Instant bread mix
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned mushy peas
  • Jars of hot dogs
  • Pasta sauce
  • Porridge
  • Squash
  • Long-life milk
  • Dishwasher liquid

Tim Benton, an expert in food systems from the University of Leeds, told the BBC that food-supply disruptions are “almost inevitable,” while the director general of the Confederation of Paper Industries has stated that a toilet-roll shortage is not an impossibility. At the end of January, chief executives from Britain’s largest food chains wrote to Parliament (pdf) urging a solution to prevent a no-deal scenario. “While we have been working closely with our suppliers on contingency plans it is not possible to mitigate all the risks to our supply chains and we fear significant disruption in the short term as a result if there is no Brexit deal,” they wrote. The fact is: Fresh produce is most likely to face shortages, and it cannot be stockpiled.

Concern: Supply chain

Pharmaceutical fears

The same intricate, as-needed supply chain that brings food to the island also delivers medications. For those who depend on specialized treatments, there are worries about Brexit interrupting access to life-or-death medicines and supplies. Some people are stockpiling generic health- and hygiene-related products, while others are acquiring a cache of medicine by asking doctors for vacation prescriptions.

Some have admitted to the dangerous and ill-advised act of skipping medication in order to stockpile it.

  • First aid supplies
  • Piriton an antihistamine
  • Tyrocet throat lozenges
  • Nasal spray
  • Calpol children's Tylenol
  • Paracetamol acetaminophen
  • Bandages
  • Needles
  • Insulin
  • Menstrual products
  • Prescription medication
  • Savlon and TCP antiseptics
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Cough syrup
  • Burn cream
  • Inhalers
  • Contraception

UK drug companies have been asked to keep on hand additional supply in case of a no-deal Brexit. Government officials, including the NHS’ chief pharmaceutical officer, continue to ask Brits not to stockpile. The Royal College of Physicians, however, recently requested the government be more transparent about national stockpiles, and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says medical shortages have recently increased.

Concern: Price increases

Costly children

Children are expensive. Some Mumsnet parents are preparing for the introduction of no-deal-related tariffs by preemptively buying kids stuff. Price jumps on necessities could be an extra financial burden for families, and a drop in the value of the pound would make imports even more expensive.

  • Children’s clothing, a size up
  • Children’s shoes, a size up
  • Nappies diapers
  • Wipes
  • Baby food
  • Formula
  • Cleaning products
  • Calpol children's Tylenol

This week, the UK government is expected to publish a document outlining import tariffs for 5,200 items in the event it leaves the EU without a deal. This will provide insight into how much prices could jump in reality. The release of this report, however, has been pushed back multiple times. No one knows exactly how the pound will react on Brexit day, but in the past, periods of uncertainty have caused it to fall.

Concern: Supply chain

Fueling up

A post-Brexit petrol or natural-gas shortage could disrupt the supply chain, employment, and utilities. Multiple users of Mumsnet brought up memories of long queues and delivery interruptions during fuel shortages in the 1970s, and other times. For these preppers, organizing means considering not just bare shelves, but also the possibility of losing power and water services.

47% of the UK’s natural gas arrives via pipelines from Europe and Norway, says British Gas.

  • Tinned food
  • Long-life milk
  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Sugar
  • Sauces and stock cubes
  • Pasta
  • Bottled water
  • Water purification tablets
  • Camp stove and fuel tablets
  • Soap, detergent, tissue
  • First aid supplies
  • Gel packs, hand warmers
  • Trash bags
  • Bleach, disinfectants
  • Batteries
  • Torch flashlight
  • Solar power bank
  • Lighters and fuel
  • Lightbulbs, fuses

Brits are unlikely to see utility disruptions, but they may face heftier bills. Brexit has already led to higher energy prices for Brits, and a no-deal Brexit will likely continue the trend. When the UK leaves the EU, it will be less integrated with the block’s energy infrastructure, leaving the UK more vulnerable to energy-supply shortages.

Concern: Supply chain

Spice up your life

Some Brexit preppers simply worry that food shortages will result in boring meals. The lack of fresh produce, or imported luxuries like cheese and wine, might make for dull no-deal dinners. Memories of war-time rationing have encouraged some to stock up on spices.

Nutella was mentioned only once in over 3,000 posts.

  • Stock cubes bouillon cubes
  • Umami paste
  • Peppercorns
  • Tagine paste
  • Tinned pulses
  • Pasta
  • Tinned fruit
  • Coffee
  • Almond milk
  • Spices
  • Olives
  • Garlic paste
  • Ginger paste
  • Capers
  • Frozen citrus juice
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Frozen fruit
  • Wine
  • Baking supplies

While a degree of food supply disruption is likely, there has been no suggestion from the government that rationing could happen. However, at least one academic doesn’t think the idea is off the table.

Concern: Price increases

Posh pile

Some of the finer things in life come from Europe, and they are expensive. A no-deal scenario could make these items even more costly, due to tariffs and an unstable currency. This wasn’t a common prepper type on Mumsnet. Regardless of the reason for stockpiling, our analysis found that wine was in the most-mentioned items to include in any stash.

55% of wine consumed in the UK is from the EU, says the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

  • European skincare
  • Makeup
  • Chocolate
  • Wine
  • Alcohol
  • Cheese
  • Perfume

The to-be-released government tariff guidelines for a no-deal Brexit will address some of these concerns. But the worries aren’t unfounded. For example, the UK imported nearly 93,000 tonnes of tariff-free cheddar from Ireland in 2016. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the imposition of expected tariffs would result in an added import duty in the hundreds of millions of pounds. Ultimately, much of the cost will trickle down to the consumer. A Dairy Industry Ireland report suggests cheddar could increase in price by 50%.

Concern: Price increases

Cash cache

Brexit hasn’t been kind to the value of the pound. This type of prepper has decided to forego dried goods, and focus on currency. Some talk of transferring money into US dollars or Euros, hoping to at least retain the current value of the pound in the event of an end-of-March plummet. A common theme: Those with post-Brexit travel plans are pulling out Euros early.

  • Cash: USD
  • Cash: Euros

The value of the pound is expected to plummet in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Some analysts say it could drop by 10%. In the event of a deal, however, the very opposite could happen. Ultimately, no one knows the future, so if taking out Euros brings you peace of mind, go for it.

Concern: All combined

Popular preps

While revealing common prepper types, this dive into the Mumsnet Brexit forums also allowed us to gather an extensive list of the nearly 700 individual items mentioned for stashing.  Here are, roughly, the items that popped up most often in posts and discussions. Take this list with a grain of salt.

  • Pasta
  • Toilet roll
  • Rice
  • Long-life milk
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tinned beans
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned tuna
  • Flour
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Medication
  • Yeast
  • Lentils
  • Bottled water
  • Wine