The trade body claims Brexit contingency preparations are proceeding too slowly and fears the UK has weaknesses in an export system that is about to become massively overloaded.
The BMPA’s message is that the situation “is not good enough”, given that the Government has had four years to prepare since the 2016 Brexit vote.
It said vital issues need to be addressed whether or not the UK gets a deal agreed with the EU.
Export Health Certificates
Export Health Certificates (EHCs) are currently used for UK exports to ‘third countries’ (nations outside the EU) and represent a tiny percentage of the total number of consignments leaving the country. The BMPA said these were set to increase, as all countries in the EU will need require the documentation after the transition period has ended.
The organisation is calling for firm assurances from Government that the new system that has been promised will be operating at full capacity by the end of 2020.
As meat exports from 31 December, including those to the EU, will require an EHC, all overseas consignments from UK meat plants will need to be inspected by an Official Veterinarian before dispatch.
The BMPA said that there were not enough trained vets in the UK to cover the additional workload.
It is also seeking confirmation that the Government’s proposed Health Marks, which are used to certify the export standard, have been agreed with all trading partners. It added that the industry risks losing orders from September onwards because of the 3 to 4-month lead times involved.
Another issue facing the sector is Groupage, which allows for daily deliveries of meat destined for the EU to be consolidated and distributed.
The BMPA said if the system did not change and UK companies could no longer use groupage, they would be at a significant competitive disadvantage and very likely lose orders.
BMPA chief executive Nick Allen said: “After months of meetings and talks with Government, which have yielded little progress, the British meat industry, along with other sectors that rely on overseas trade, has lost patience and we are calling publicly for Government to step up the pace and solve these issues before it is too late.”
“With less than four months to go Britain has a woeful lack of infrastructure and people to operate the new export system, which if not addressed will result in massive delays, extra cost and lost orders.”