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‘Sort the border to prevent supply chain breakdown’: Logistics UK

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Mallon: 'These are business-critical issues which will impact the movement of goods across the UK’s borders and, potentially, into stores and homes nationwide.' IMage: Getty, Tanaonte
Mallon: 'These are business-critical issues which will impact the movement of goods across the UK’s borders and, potentially, into stores and homes nationwide.' IMage: Getty, Tanaonte

Related tags Trade

The food and drink supply chain is less than a month away from a complete breakdown as operators struggle to understand the Border Target Operating Model, due to come into force this month, warned trade body Logistics UK.

Set to go live on 30 April 2024, the new Border Target Operating Model​ sets out a new approach to security controls (applying to all imports), and sanitary and phytosanitary controls (applying to imports of live animals, animal products, plants and plants products) at the border.

However, supply chain operators claim they are still in the dark when it comes to critical information on how the new arrangement is to work.

Still in the dark

“The government has still not told our members – businesses which move all the food and other goods in the supply chain – what import charges it will apply on every consignment they bring across the border and how this Common User Charge will be administered,” ​explained Nichola Mallon, Logistics UK head of trade.

“Concerns still remain within our industry about the capabilities and capacity at border control posts to efficiently process these perishable goods. These are business-critical issues which will impact the movement of goods across the UK’s borders and, potentially, into stores and homes nationwide.”

This lack of crucial information will ultimately lead to empty shelves and food rotting in trucks – a serious issue when about 30% of the food consumed in the UK comes from the EU, including almost half of the fresh vegetables and a majority of fresh fruit sold in this country.

“Fresh produce cannot be left languishing in vehicles for long periods of time – we need to be able to move it effectively to our customers with as little delay as possible,”​ Mallon added.

Additional challenges

“Add in the challenge of negotiating traffic jams caused by holiday traffic, and the introduction of the new EU Entry/Exit System at the Short Straits planned for October, and the risks to supply chains and potential for product shortages in supermarkets becomes very real.

“Logistics operators need the support of government to ensure that the UK’s borders do not become a barrier to the movement of goods.”

Last month, Cold Chain Federation chief executive Phil Pluck wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to air his concerns over the Border Target Operating Model plans.

Besides fears over food safety, the rise in costs associated with the new model will see many businesses stop exporting to the UK, particularly small artisan producers.

Meanwhile, EIT Food has called for urgent political action​ to ensure effective short-term crisis preparedness, response coordination, and longer-term crisis prevention in the food and drink supply chain.

Related topics Supply Chain Fresh produce Brexit

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