Importers Warn of Food Shortages in UK Due to New Brexit Checks

Importers Warn of Food Shortages in UK Due to New Brexit Checks

London (Parliament News) – Importers warn that new Brexit import checks, effective April 30, will lead to shortages of certain foods, flowers, and herbs in the UK. Fees up to £145 per consignment are anticipated.

According to Industries Importers, Ministers’ decision to inflict Brexit import checks on 30 April will result in shortages of some foods, flowers and herbs. In the week after the government was blamed for blindsiding the British food industry by providing 27 days’ notice that every consignment of commodities such as camembert, steak, tulips and chives would be subject to fees of up to £145, small vendors such as delis and farm shops have been running to make sure they still have commodities to sell.

As reported by Reuter,  they say some European exporters have already determined that they have had sufficiently of British red tape and are either staying supply operations or have given up totally. Food wholesalers and trade unions have conveyed the Observer of suppliers in EU countries who are already glancing at other markets instead of the UK. Since 2020, importers have had to deal with mounting tiers of Brexit bureaucracy, including phytosanitary certifications, plant passports, import clearances and export health certificates. Next month, they will have another form to refill out for animal products, plants and herbs and must spend a “common user charge” of up to £145 per consignment.

Ministers express this is only planned to cover the costs of new structures, including a £154m inland border control area at Sevington in Kent, and not render a profit. However, the Cold Chain Federation (CCF), a trade body for suppliers, assesses the government will reap a Brexit dividend of £60m, and the procedure will add £1bn to the cost of importing chilled food and plants. The insurer Allianz Trade spoke last week that overall food import costs would rise by 10% in the first year of the new regime.

Are Brexit Import Checks Driving Suppliers Away?

In a note to Steve Barclay, the environment secretary, the CCF’s chief executive, Phil Pluck, stated that after UK exporters became subject to new regulations in 2021, “many smaller cold-chain UK repositories and distributors discovered the administration too onerous and ceased to operate”. The new border authorities mean “the effect on both European partners and UK companies may be similar”, Pluck stated, calling for a delay in border checks.

What Are the Implications of Brexit Checks?

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, expressed the government had failed to realise that importing food was a rapid, overnight procedure and that some importers would pay more in fees than the amount they earn from shipping food. He stated ministers could have reduced costs for some importers by permitting them to use some of the UK’s 41 “control points” – privately operated border checks. But management inspectors will not be available overnight, when most fresh food is supplied, forcing importers to use Sevington, he stated.

“We need those management points to be serviced by government officials to review the hours of trade our industry works. We require that done within days. Because we have had several major exporters simply stating: ‘On this basis, the UK is too complicated to trade with. I won’t do it.”

How Will Brexit Import Controls Impact Farmers?

The new controls do not involve fresh fruit and vegetables, but regulations for these are likely to come into force in October – an obligation under the duration of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal – and there are already indications that suppliers of lower-value crops such as blueberries and cucumbers are shipping their produce elsewhere. British farmers cautioned last week of an exceptionally poor harvest this year, after heavy rainfall and flooding, causing the UK even more reliant on imported food. The new import management will also make it more expensive for farmers to import seed potatoes and other crops.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.