The Minister for Jobs has said she is satisfied that retail distributors here are putting in place all the plans they can to ensure continuity of supply of food products in the event of a hard Brexit.

Heather Humphreys said she has been working very closely with the retail distribution sector, trying to exchange views to ensure there is as little disruption as possible if the UK does crash out of the EU on October 31st.

"I am satisfied that they are putting all the plans in place that they can possibly do to make sure that there is bread on the table," she said. 

"And I have met with them and I am satisfied that they will be able to deal with any issues that are coming forward."

The Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, also moved to reassure consumers that retailers have comprehensive contingency plans in place to ensure supply continuity in all Brexit scenarios. 

"Suggestions to the contrary are totally inaccurate. While the prospect of a no deal Brexit brings many challenges to the supply chain, retailers have spent the last two years putting in place detailed plans to address these," Mr Burke said.

The Jobs Minister said the Government continues to work with the EU to try to find the right solution for the smooth movement of goods across the border.

The border area has an intricate supply chain, she added, and to unravel that is difficult.

Minister Humphreys said there will be sanitary and phytosanitary checks, but the Government can't say where they are going to be yet.

"That is something we are working on with the EU and as soon as we have the information we will provide that information," she said.

"But you must understand, we are still in a negotiating position and there are some things we cannot say at this stage."

On the issue of the backstop, Ms Humphreys said Boris Johnson has said there are alternatives to it but he hasn't told the EU what they are.

"He hasn't put meat on the bones," she said. "We have heard about alternatives now for a couple of months now but we still haven't got any detail behind those alternatives."

Ms Humphreys said businesses need to face the challenges and the risks posed by Brexit.

"I've always been saying to businesses you must prepare for the worst possible outcome while we continue to negotiate for the best possible outcome for the country," she said.

"Businesses need to identify the risks that they will be presented with in a no-deal Brexit, and we will help them prepare through all the supports, whether it is Enterprise Ireland, whether it is through InterTradeIreland, the Local Enterprise Offices or whether it is through the Brexit loan schemes we have in place."

She said businesses need to look at their supply chains, customs procedures and what tariffs will apply in a worst case scenario.

"We know there are going to be tariffs that can be paid online, they need to look at how they are going to do that," she said.

Although there are just nine weeks to go to the October 31st deadline, the Minister said it is still not too late for businesses to prepare.

"If you are exposed to Brexit and you haven't done anything about it, please appoint one person in your business, get them to look at all the Brexit supports that are available and get them to use them," she said.

She added that Brexit is not something that we wanted, but it is something we have to deal with by working together and facing it.