FoodMan Talks: Wyke Farms grows exports amid Brexit red tape

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy

Post-Brexit bureaucracy is still hampering cheese producer Wyke Farms' export efforts, although the company is making considerable headway in markets outside the EU, according to managing director Richard Clothier in the latest FoodMan Talks.

Clothier said the company's export centre of excellence in Wincanton, Somerset had enabled it to consolidate exports of its own products and those of other regional suppliers.

However, the company continued to struggle against the considerable headwinds involved in exporting products to the EU.

"It's been tough, because we have had layers of more paperwork, more more disruption at the borders."

Longer life product versus perishable goods

He said exporting longer life products had been easier than handling more perishable goods, such as creams and whey concentrates, which were not fit to withstand delays at borders.

"On the cheese side it's been a case of more work, more licensing, more vets, more cost, less efficiency, because you haven't been able to consolidate mixed products as efficiently - pallets of meat, pallets of cheese. It adds to the border complications and we don't want to do anything that adds to border complications.

"There appears still to be no uniformity around how the checks are administered at the borders. It's very much down to interpretation."

Clothier said the system for handling export paperwork for products of animal origin, having been originally designed more than 40 years ago was 'inefficient' and 'not designed for the purpose'.

Lack of buy-in from the EU

Updating the process needed to be done quickly, with the buy-in of the EU. "I'm not sure there's a will on their side to do that, because they are still getting free access into the UK and not having to use these systems yet. In terms of light at the end of the tunnel, I'm not seeing an awful lot of movement.

"My personal view is until we impose the same border restrictions on the EU as they do on us, we won't get any movement at all.

"Of course, the problem with that will be if we haven't got the customs people to administer it and our continental partners can't get the paperwork done, the UK would run short of parts and goods."

Clothier went on to reveal more details of how Wyke Farms' centre of excellence for export in Wincanton, which was completed earlier this year, worked with its cheese production site in Bruton.

Look out for our Me & My Teams feature next week on the new Wincanton facility.

Related topics: Dairy, Brexit, Business Leaders

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