Speaking to Food Manufacture, John Perry, managing director at Scala, said the automotive industry was “strong in getting out the message that Brexit is not good for the auto sector” and urged food firms to speak up.
His comments followed the EU Council’s decision to allow the UK to further delay its departure from the EU until 31 October.
“[Food] businesses have tried to keep out of the politics of it, but I think it’s so important that businesses should make their voices heard even more than they do,” Perry told Food Manufacture. “I think it is so fundamental.”
Perry conceded that “very large-scale operations” were involved in the automotive sector and while the food industry was “not quite the same” and had greater flexibility, it still faced risks.
“People moving manufacturing around as they start to work out what to do could well have an impact, and [it] will certainly have an impact on prices,” he insisted. “I don’t see much from the food manufacturers in the news, so I think a higher profile would be good.”
Concerns about stock, customs administration and training programmes that might be needed to bring staff up to speed with impending legislation were among the issues businesses raised, Perry added.
Authorised Economic Operator
He described the response to calls for companies to adopt the Authorised Economic Operator quality mark as a vital tool to reduce post-Brexit border delays as “mixed”. He urged more firms to consider the move to oil the wheels of international trade.
“It seems to us that this is a sensible way to mitigate any difficulties,” he said. “If it can help, should there be any problems at borders, then all well and good. It’s not a hugely expensive thing to do - it’s a bit time-consuming.”
Government guidance on the AEO certification process is available here.
Last week, Labour’s Lord Jeffrey Rooker warned that tariffs on food would bump up prices by 10% and would be detrimental to all but the most prepared food businesses.