‘We can expect many to stop exporting to the UK’, warns Cold Chain Federation

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Post-Brexit border controls will jeopardise food supply chain and increase food prices, Cold Chain Federation warns Defra in letter. Credit: Getty/PaperFox
Post-Brexit border controls will jeopardise food supply chain and increase food prices, Cold Chain Federation warns Defra in letter. Credit: Getty/PaperFox

Related tags Trade Regulation Food security

The association which represents the interests of UK temperature-controlled logistics has written to the Defra Secretary with concerns over Border Target Operating Model plans to come later this year.

Due to be rolled on 30 April 2024, the Cold Chain Federation has issued a warning to Defra Secretary Steve Barclay around the proposals for the new border checks on imports from the EU.

The letter outlines the major challenges these new rules will impose on the movement of temperature-controlled plants and products of animal origin (affecting many types of meat and fish), including concerns over food safety and costs.

“From the end of April many EU food businesses supplying the UK are going to have a substantial new administrative burden and considerably higher costs to send temperature-controlled products here,”​ explained the federation’s chief executive, Phil Pluck.

“We can expect many to stop exporting to the UK at all, particularly small artisan producers. Those that do continue may see up to £1,000 added to the cost of one multi-consignment lorry entering the UK and will likely need to pass on a significant portion of those costs with higher prices.”

Pluck has also cautioned that “unnecessary delays, disruption and paperwork confusion”​ will also drive cost hikes and more food waste.

For example, the current model allows EU food businesses in France or the Netherlands to place an order at 9am, with the food safely transported to the UK the same day. The new rules mandate a 24-hour pre-notification, with no plans to replace the ‘crucial’ same-day service.

The Federation has also outlined its concerns over a lack of assurance that different food consignments will be successfully kept at correct temperatures for safety and quality when held at Border Control Posts. While more taxing paperwork and inspections could exacerbate current pain points already found in the process.

“Cold chain operators and their EU customers are still waiting for clarity in a number of areas about what they will actually need to do,”​ Pluck added, as he emphasised the Federation’s “serious concerns about the readiness of the Border Control Posts”.

We are already seeing too many temperature-controlled consignments from the EU administratively rejected because they have an unqualified signature.”

Among the solutions it sets out in its letter, the Federation is calling for a swift expansion of the ‘trusted trader pilot’ to allow goods to be fully secured during transit and warehousing. This will allow ‘proven’ operators to manage their own secure inland control points.

“Ahead of the checking and inspection requirement scope widening in April we are asking the Minister to tell us how the issuing of Export Health Certificates will continue to support round-the-clock haulage operations so that food supplies into the UK are not disrupted.”

The federation aren’t the first to air their fears over, with the British Meat Processors also warning that complex bureaucracy could seriously jeopardise UK sheep exports to the EU​ – a key market for offal and animal by-product Brits don’t tend to consume.

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