"Something as simple as Granny Smith apples; I can’t get from anywhere at the moment,” says greengrocer David Whipp. “Sometimes you don’t exactly know what the reason is. There is always something that might happen to fresh produce.

“But the number of times that we are getting excuses for unavailability at the moment is more than last year.

“I can’t say it is totally down to Brexit, but it is hard to quantify these things.

“There are incidents such as the poor weather in Spain last year which meant there was a shortage of lettuce and courgettes and a poor supply of Spanish onions.

“But then the Chinese and Eastern bloc countries bought all the stock that was available.

“You get suppliers who are wide-boys saying that the price has gone up because of Brexit and you are not sure if that is the case or not,” says Mr Whipp, owner of Starr Fruits in Penrith.

The trade association for UK retailers has warned that Brexit will mean risks of food shortages depending on customs deals agreed before Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) issued its warning this week saying it was still waiting for crucial details on imports and exports and stressed European supply chains were “key” to delivering everyday goods.

More than three-quarters of food imported by the UK comes from European Union countries and will be covered by new customs arrangements after Britain leaves the partnership in just 18 months’ time. In a report setting out its goals for the future customs relationship, the BRC said delays, disruption or additional costs would “affect availability on the shelves, increase waste and push prices up”.

It is estimated that leaving the EU will lead to an increase customs declarations from 55 million to 255 million annually and the BRC warns that a “no deal” situation could result in delays of up to three days at ports.

Exiting the EU on World Trade Organisation terms, without a deal with Brussels, would lead to 180,000 extra firms being drawn into customs declarations for the first time. Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “To ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods continue to reach the shelves, agreements on security, transit, haulage, drivers, VAT and other checks will be required to get systems ready for March 2019.”

Scarcity means higher prices for those consignments that do become available.

Philip Cranston, managing director of Cranstons butchers, says delays at the port while import papers are checked would have a critical effect on fresh produce.

He explains: “It would impact on any fruit and veg we use.

“Two or three days could be the shelf-life on a product. If it was raw meat, vacuum-packed with a three-week shelf life it is not key for the food industry, but it is for fresh produce and florists.”

The vacuum caused by the lack of solid detail and information from the Brexit negotiations is being filled by rumours, scares and guesswork.

Mr Whipp, a town and county councillor adds: “There is probably some nervousness and some element of suppliers and growers looking for alternative markets to us already.

“I know of produce that has been sold to Eastern bloc countries and I have never heard of that before in previous years.

“Is it scare-mongering? I don’t know.

“When things have happened in the past causing shortages, we have been inventive in going round the world and finding alternatives.

“Who is to say there are not opportunities out there around the world to what we are doing?

“I think it fundamentally depends on whether you think we are right to leave the EU.

“Depending on whether you believe it is right to remain or to leave, you see it as a problem or an opportunity.”

Meanwhile the fall in the value of Sterling since the Brexit referendum has already had a big impact on our shopping, as Mr Cranston points out: “The strength of the Euro is affecting us.

“The price of pork in this country is valued in Euros and it is a global market. If the Pound loses value to the Euro, that price will go up.

“Farmers have the choice of selling into the UK or the EU and if they can get a better price abroad they will sell abroad.

“In the summer there is usually a glut of lamb and the price drops, but the weak Pound has spurred the export of lamb and prices have held.

“I don’t think the Pound will bounce back soon. I think the good points about Brexit might be 10 years away.”

Justine Carruthers, managing director of Penrith-based cake company Traybakes says any benefits from Brexit could take time to realise.

“Everyone is banging their own drum and there is an awful lot to be unravelled in every sector,” she reasons.

“We have chosen to come out and these are the challenges we have to face.

“It will be uncomfortable in the short-term, but long-term we have to get it right. Anyone who believed Brexit was a short-term fix was deluding themselves.”

The currency changes have seen the cost of raw ingredients rise for the business but they have been eased by its success.

Mrs Carruthers says: “Our costs have gone up, but we have tripled our business since we moved to Cumbria three years ago.

“We are absorbing the extra costs for now, but we will have to review pricing at the end of the year.”

A Government spokesman said: “The Prime Minister has made clear that we will be seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU, that works in the interests of businesses and consumers in both the UK and the EU.

“We have published a paper that lays out the Government’s aspirations for the UK’s future customs arrangements and also makes clear that we want an implementation period, that avoids a cliff-edge for business and allows a smooth and orderly exit from the EU.”

Justine Carruthers adds: “We have just got to hope that ultimately it was the right decision in the long term.

“The benefits will come through eventually but there are costs we have to meet.”