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BREXIT 6-Months In: Impacts On Food Businesses

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1 year ago

In the build up to Brexit there were a lot of predictions about the issues that might cause problems to food businesses. Our food consultants in the UK and EU have worked with many clients to navigate these problems, so, after six months it feels appropriate to have a quick look at the top 6 problems the industry has faced across the supply chain.

Ashbury
  1. Northern Ireland Challenges

Top of our list was the situation in Northern Ireland as the activity here distils many of the predicted issues. There was always going to be a need for border checks for certain foods entering the EU after transition, but Northern Ireland became a particularly stand out case owing to the complex and uncomfortable co-existence of regulatory regimes there. This led to the so-called ‘sausage war’ and the recent close avoidance of an EU ban on chilled meat shipments from Britain to Northern Ireland; A temporary fix based on the UK avoiding any regulatory divergence on food legislation during this time. Some retailers are allegedly contemplating pulling out of Northern Ireland as a result of these problems.

  1. Shortages on Supermarket Shelves in GB and NI

There are reports of some food shortages on supermarket shelves due to a scarcity of lorry drivers in part due to Brexit. This in turn influences the shelf life of goods due to transit times increasing dramatically – oysters and fresh products an example of goods threatened.

  1. Shortage of labourers in agriculture 

There are also issues getting abattoir staff and fruit pickers in GB which translates into short supplies and possible price rises.

  1. A reduction of GB exports

Exports to the EU have dropped dramatically with the FDF reporting a loss of £2bn of exports in the first three months of 2021; indeed, some British companies are reported to be setting up shop in the EU to try to mitigate export complications 

  1. New regulatory barriers for some products

Some parts of the British food industry, such as exporters of live mussels, have been affected by regulatory barriers which didn’t exist before now the GB sits outside the EU and is considered a Third Country.

  1. Rules of Origin (RoO)

While are not new, they are new to many businesses moving in and out of Great Britain and Europe. RoO are decided based on the Economic Nationality of the goods, they ensure only parties who are a part of the Trade Agreement receive preferential treatment when it comes to tariffs and quotas. Many businesses have found it difficult to understand how RoO work and how the CN/HS codes relate to their goods, therefore the tariffs or quotas they are subject to paying. 

A note on Brexit labelling: 

Prior to Brexit there were justifiable concerns over necessary label changes on foodstuffs such as address lines, geographical indicators and organics but these have yet to cause a problem - certainly when compared to the supply chain issues above. If we were to mention any, it would be the Food Business Operator (FBO) address. While this is quite simple in terms of application, some businesses have found sourcing an importer willing to take on liability more difficult than others and have attempted to look for work arounds such as PO boxes and virtual addresses. Unfortunately, these are not compliant alternatives. 

At Ashbury, we offer food consultants in the UK service. For advice on how to navigate the new challenges posed but Brexit from our food labelling and regulatory consultants, please do get in touch. 

Related Blogs -

When Should Compliance Be Added to Your New Product Development Process?

Food Information Regulations GB: A Brief Look at Allergen Labelling Requirements


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