The head of the UK's largest dairy supplier has warned shoppers they will have to pay more for grocery essentials including butter and cheese if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in January.

Ash Amirahmadi, who leads dairy giant Arla's UK operations, also warned that timing of Brexit talks mean that many food suppliers could "struggle" to manage a no deal or late deal in the face of coronavirus disruption and Christmas demand.

Retailers have warned that products could be slapped by with more than £3 billion of tariffs if the UK walks away from Brexit talks without a deal.

Mr Amirahmadi said suppliers are in discussions with supermarkets over how to deal with tariffs if they are introduced next year.

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He said that although suppliers and supermarkets could swallow some of the tariff costs, price rises will be "inevitable" if there is no free-trade agreement.

"Around 40% of what we consume in this country is exported from the EU so any situation which involves tariff will have a significant impact," he said.

"No one wants customers to be paying more but it is an inevitable consequence of not having a free-trade deal.

"Suppliers know if they will be able to swallow some of that tariff impact, and retailers will know what they can take too, but for a lot of things, they won't be able to take all that on."

He said that high tariffs on dairy imports will have a significant impact given that 35% of yoghurt, 40% of butter and 67% of all cheese consumed in the UK is imported.

These products, and other groceries, saw availability issues at the start of the pandemic as shoppers stocked up on essential groceries.

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