The Cold Chain Federation has warned that UK food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers should expect significant disruption this Christmas due to EU food-producing businesses that supply the UK being unaware of, and unprepared for, the post-Brexit customs changes coming into force on 31 October 2023. The results of a survey by the federation indicate a concerning lack of preparedness of European food-producing businesses, with 39% of those surveyed not even aware of the new rules and timeframes announced by the UK government.
One key change under the new post-Brexit import rules is that export health certificates signed by a qualified certifying officer will become mandatory for every consignment of ‘medium risk’ meat, dairy and fish products exported from the EU to the UK, from 31 October. Some 41 per cent of survey respondents said they do not have plans in place to ensure compliance with this requirement.
“It is deeply worrying that well over a third of these food-producing businesses supplying into the UK are not aware that these significant changes are looming,” said Cold Chain Federation chief executive Shane Brennan. ”Communications from UK government to these businesses has not been good enough and it is the food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers here in the UK who will pay the price with disruption, delays, and losses. We have written to ministers setting out our survey findings and asking for the 31 October implementation of the export health certificates to be moved back to 31 January 2024. Government must use the extra time to deliver a much wider and better resourced communications campaign, starting now, to increase awareness among EU businesses in enough time for a full implementation on 31 January next year.”
When asked about their intentions regarding the sale of their products to UK customers after 31 October 2023, only 60% of respondents said they plan to continue their service to the same customers at the same frequency, with 10% planning to reduce the frequency and range of UK-based customers they serve, 7% planning to stop altogether and 22% saying they don’t know at this stage.