Food Hauliers Sound Alarm Over Christmas Supplies

Disruption to Christmas Food Trade Predicted as New Survey Shows a Third of EU Food Businesses Supplying UK Not Ready For Looming Post-Brexit Rule Changes’

The Cold Chain Federation is warning that UK food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers should expect significant disruption in the Christmas trading window because food producing businesses in Europe which supply into the UK are unaware of, and unprepared for, the post-Brexit customs changes coming into force on 31st October 2023.

A new Cold Chain Federation survey (attached) shows the concerning lack of preparedness of food producing businesses in Europe that currently supply goods to the UK, with 39% of the food producing businesses surveyed not even aware of the new rules and timeframes announced by UK Government.

In a key change under the new post-Brexit import rules, export health certificates signed by a qualified certifying officer will become mandatory for every consignment of ‘medium risk’ meat, dairy and fish products exported from the EU to the UK, from 31st October. 41% of survey respondents said they do not have plans in place to ensure compliance with this crucial requirement. The Cold Chain Federation is the voice of the temperature-controlled supply chain in the UK.

“It is deeply worrying that well over a third of these food producing businesses supplying into the UK are not aware that these significant changes are looming. Communications from UK Government to these businesses has not been good enough and it is the food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers here in the UK who will pay the price with disruption, delays, and losses.

“We have written to Ministers setting out our survey findings and asking for the 31st October implementation of the export health certificates to be moved back to 31st January 2024. Government must use the extra time to deliver a much wider and better resourced communications campaign, starting now, to increase awareness among EU businesses in enough time for a full implementation on 31st January next year. By then the UK should also have a fully staffed border inspection team, enforcing the new rules but also providing support and advice for these EU importers. With so much stress, cost inflation and other pressures in the food supply chain this year, this marginal change in the implementation plans could make a big difference.”

Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive Shane Brennan

The survey also showed that 78% of the EU-based food producing businesses surveyed believe costs will increase to their UK customers as a result of the new rules. Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive Shane Brennan said: “Meeting the new export health certificate requirement will increase costs for the EU food producers supplying into the UK, even more so for businesses scrambling at the last minute. These costs will be passed onto UK retailers, ultimately leading to higher prices for UK consumers and pushing food inflation even higher.”

When asked about their intentions regarding the sale of their products to UK customers after 31st October 2023, only 60% of respondents said they plan to seek to continue their service to the same customers at the same frequency. 10% plan to reduce the frequency and range of UK based customers they serve, 7% plan to stop altogether and 22% said they don’t know at this stage.

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