It's now two weeks since the UK was originally due to leave the European Union, and the future of the Brexit process - or if we'll even leave at all - remains as uncertain as ever. Whatever happens there'll be an impact on the food we eat - but exactly what form this impact will take remains to be seen. IAN CRAIG looks at the issue.

ALMOST three years since the UK voted to leave the European Union and the future seems no more certain now than it did then.

Whether we leave with a deal, without one, or don't leave altogether - all possibilities are still up in the air, it seems.

One of the sectors which could be affected is Wales' food industry. New tariffs on food imports could drive costs up, and the loss of access to European suppliers may mean some products customers currently take for granted are in short supply.

This is something Richard Soar, who owns Rae Barton's food and veg stall in Newport Market, is well aware of.

South Wales Argus:

Richard Soar

"We get a lot of our produce from Europe," he said. "Particularly Spain, France and Holland.

"But we don't know what's happening - no one knows.

"That's kept prices up."

Mr Soar said his suppliers had told him they would continue to attempt to provide the same service regardless of the outcome, but don't know how difficult it will be.

"It's going to affect everybody in my game," he said.

"All my suppliers are still going to try to get stuff, but they don't know how much it's going to go up by.

"We don't produce enough in this country - at one time we did, but we don't any more.

"A lot of British growers went out to Spain because they can grow tomatoes and things all year round, which you can't do here. So it's going to affect them.

"And it's going to affect the workforce too - a lot of growers in this country use a lot of Polish workers and they can't get British workers to do it any more."

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He added ultimately some companies might be forced to close.

"It might get that expensive that we might not be able to carry on because people might not want to come and buy it," he said.

Earlier this week the EU agreed to extend Article 50 until October 31 - seven months after the date the UK was originally due to leave the EU. Although this gives more time to negotiate terms, coming to a deal which will win cross-party support in Parliament seems like a tall order.

Chris Parker of Blaenavon-based Vin Sullivan Foods - which supplies food to high-end restaurants and hotels across the UK - said the company was mindful of the potential impact of Brexit, but agreed it was difficult to plan without knowing what is going to happen.

"There's no point preparing for a no-deal Brexit if we don't know if that's going to happen," he said. "That would be a waste of time.

"We don't know enough about it to know what to do.

"We supply restaurants and hotels and we have heard people worried generally about what's going to happen.

"The fear of the unknown if worse than being afraid of what we know is going to happen - it's just a pile of possibilities and what ifs."

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But he added he believed the company had done everything it can in the present situation to prepare.

"We have had a look at it and there's only a few products which would be affected, and that's mostly because of import tariffs," he said.

"It just means getting a bit of extra stock in from the continent just in case."

The Welsh Government is also in the unenviable position of having responsibility for areas such as food and the environment which are currently directly affected by European legislation, while not being directly involved in negotiations with Brussels.

Speaking to the BBC last week, first minister Mark Drakeford said, while the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the Welsh economy could be "really serious", he did not believe stockpiling food was necessary.

"Our intelligence is there will not be food shortages, but there certainly may not be the variety of food that people are absolutely used to going into a supermarket and finding," he said.

"There’ll be things you can buy today and don’t have to think twice about it that won't be there in a crash-out Brexit. That isn’t to say there won't be food on the shelves and things people won't be able to buy."

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Mark Drakeford

He added: "On the one hand you have to be realistic with people and explain to them that, if we leave the EU on the worst of terms, then that will not be consequence-free and they will feel those consequences in their own lives. But, at the same time, you don’t want to use language and send messages that cause people to panic unnecessarily.

"There is no need to panic as far as food is concerned - there will be food for everybody, but it will not be food of the variety we currently take for granted."

The Welsh Government has also created a website with advice for preparing for a no-deal Brexit, as well as an online portal with information and advice for Welsh businesses.

On food supplies the website says: "For some groups in the population – children reliant on school meals, elderly people in residential care, patients in hospitals – the impact of a no deal exit from the EU could raise anxieties about food supplies.

"Most of our food is produced in the UK or comes from non-EU countries – if there are any problems, they will be about the choice of some fresh products, not a general shortage of food."

It continues the Welsh Government is "working closely" with the UK Government and other devolved administrations to ensure food supply is maintained.

"NHS and social care organisations that use large food suppliers are not likely to experience any significant disruption, meaning hospitals and most care homes will continue to provide balanced meals for patients and residents as usual," it said.

"The majority of school meals are provided by local authority catering services, plans are in place to deal with any disruption to food supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Some schools have their own catering arrangements and local authorities are working with them and governors to assess any potential impact and provide advice and support to make sure they continue to provide schools meals."