Meet the Brexit preppers who say they won't 'fight over the last loaf of bread'

Londoner Jo Elgarf helps to run a Facebook group that discusses how Brexit might affect food supply.
Mike Green
Londoner Jo Elgarf helps to run a Facebook group that discusses how Brexit might affect food supply.

"If we had disruption for four weeks, would you be able to feed your family?"

The woman posing the question is a "Brexit prepper," somebody who has crammed their cupboards full of groceries, toiletries and household goods just in case U.K. shops run empty at the end of March. The U.K. is set to leave the European Union on March 29.

Jo Elgarf doesn't wait for an answer, explaining that her Facebook group, "48% Preppers" is made up of people who want to publicize that a "no deal" Brexit could mean disruption to the supply chain.

"We had hoped that none of this would be needed but the more they argue in Parliament, the more they forget about us. They've told us nothing about to expect if we go out under no deal," she told CNBC last week.

The 43-year-old Londoner works as an administrator on the Facebook group and is a mother to a disabled daughter. Elgarf believes British people have become too complacent about their food supply, always expecting that items they want will be conveniently available.

"If you are in Canada you go into winter knowing that you've got enough food in case you are snowed in for the month," she said.

"We are so complacent here, we think things are just going to be in the supermarket. So, we're going back to 1970s style that means you want to do your shopping further apart."

After weeks of carrying out U.K. media interviews and with Brexit now less than two weeks away, Elgarf says the time to get her message across has now passed.

"The whole idea of this was that by this point nobody would need to panic. So, we were trying to say 'look, just get yourself two weeks of really basic food in.'"

"Now we've stopped doing British media because it is too late," she adds.

Across in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, Helena Adams is another member of the 48 percent preppers group.

Adams says with British warehouse space so restricted, supply problems could grow quickly and she wants no part of a frantic high street with panic buying.

"I'm not cut out for fighting over the last loaf of bread in Asda, I'd sooner be at home," she told CNBC over the phone.

Speaking from her kitchen, the 27-year old is keen to distance herself from the vivid images of an armed loner living in the wild and "prepping for the zombie apocalypse."

"It is about making my own life easier and more comfortable and hey, I am not going to be a nice person if I go without coffee, so I've some extra coffee in."

Adams says she doesn't talk to many people about her stockpiling but admits her choices have caused different views among close family.

"My dad thinks I'm quite sensible and is stocking up for himself. My mother on the other hand voted to leave and had a few choice words when I said I was prepping."

She says her mother wouldn't even consider adding a few extra items to the shopping list.

"I've given her the information. She's chosen not to take it."

The Brexit Box has been to created for those worried about no food in the shops.
The Brexit Box has been to created for those worried about no food in the shops.

One firm that is benefiting from the nervousness over impending U.K. grocery shortages is online supplier emergencyfoodstorage.co.uk.

The 10-year-old business supplies aid agencies, government departments and individuals with foods designed to last for up to 25 years.

The packs include tinned foods, made up meals, packets of meat, water filters and fire-starting equipment. Last year the firm decided to brand one of its emergency kits as a "Brexit Box."

All yours for £295, the firm's co-founder James Blake says the box will make more than 100 meals.

Blake told CNBC that the box and other larger packages had "sold very well" over the last few months.

"We are seeing an average 20 percent increase year-on-year and this year had a bit of a spike. January was the highest grossing month ever in the history of the company."

He added that if supermarket shelves start to empty, it could spell trouble as British people no longer stored food in larders.

"It was quite a commonplace thing to do 30 odd years ago but buying habits have changed with the convenience of food and that is a bit of a problem when the food supply is disrupted."