A majority of the food and drink industry plan to vote “out” in the Brexit referendum in June, despite fearing their business will suffer if the UK leaves the EU.

This is the result of an exclusive survey of food and drink professionals, conducted by Forecourt Trader’s publisher William Reed, and its market research experts HIM.

It reveals 39% will vote for a Brexit, even though 37% believe leaving the EU could have disastrous consequences for their businesses. 37% plan to vote to remain, with 21% still undecided.

The survey shows attitudes towards Brexit vary between different sector. While 52% of suppliers are supportive of the UK staying in the EU, with 52% convinced leaving would be bad for UK food and drink, foodservice operators – particularly small traders in the pub sector – lean towards a Brexit, with 46% planning to vote out. Among retailers and wholesalers, the split is even, with 33% for a Brexit and 33% against from a professional point of view, though 43% plan to vote ‘leave’ in a personal capacity.

“Security comes above commercial interests, and closing our borders will go a long way to achieving this,” said one professional when asked as to why they were backing Brexit despite business concerns. “We need to make our own rules and trade deals,” added another pro-Brexit respondent.

However, an advocate for staying in said: “If the vote is out, the changeover uncertainty will hamper investment and growth, potentially leading to stagnation for a period until new terms are established.”