Government’s Post-Brexit Food Import Controls Will Cause Food Shortages and Price Inflation, Hitting Smallest Businesses Hardest

Government’s proposals for new food controls on all goods imported to the UK from the EU will fuel shortages and price inflation, warns food logistics trade body.

Six years since the UK started the process of leaving the EU and after two previous postponements to bringing in the necessary food controls, the proposals today are a massive disappointment. They solve none of the real risks facing our post-Brexit food supply chains and will exacerbate shortages on the shelf and food inflation.

When plans to bring in controls starting from July 2022 were cancelled, we were promised a fundamentally new approach to how the UK would manage its border, that is not what this proposal is. None of the fundamental problems have been solved and business have nowhere near enough time to prepare.

Groupage, which is the only cost-effective way to move smaller volumes of food goods into food retail, restaurants and more, will no longer be workable under the new regulations so we can expect a collapse in the volume of speciality products coming into the UK. Overall, exporting products such as meat and dairy from the EU into the UK will be more expensive, slower and more complicated. We have to expect that many EU based food exporters will take one look at these proposals and decide to cease supplying UK customers. As the recent tomato shortages have shown, food suppliers have plenty of options to sell elsewhere. Bringing in this scheme, in this form, at this pace, at a time of spiralling food price inflation and ongoing supply shortages is a really bad idea.

Cold Chain Federation Chief Executive Shane Brennan

The proposals, as set out in the new ‘Border Target Operating Model’ announced today, is the latest plan to impose the food import controls required of the UK under both the free trade agreement with the EU and World Trade Organisation rules. The new Border Operating Model will require:

  • All businesses importing fresh or frozen meat, dairy and other goods to provide an export health certificate alongside the consignment of goods entering the UK.
  • All export health certificates must be signed in person by a vet at point of departure.
  • Every consignment of goods in the medium and high-risk categories entering the UK will face a new ‘border tax’ up to £41 per consignment whether or not they are to be inspected.
  • All goods in medium and high-risk categories will be subject to documentary checks, largely negating the promises around light touch physical inspection.

The documentary controls are now set to come into force from October 2023, meaning that tens of thousands of food businesses across the EU need to be informed, put in place new costly compliance procedures and be ready to go within only six months.

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