The government has delayed plans to introduce checks on imported food products once again.
The post-Brexit checks on fresh farm produce and plants from the EU into the UK were meant to begin in October, however, concerns over supply chain readiness, delays and potential inflationary cost increases have seen the roll-out pushed back once more.
Industry bodies have welcomed the move, with the Cold Chain Federation noting; “UK food retailers, hospitality businesses and consumers were in line for major disruption because many EU food-producing businesses supplying into the UK are not ready for the new requirements.”
But some businesses have said that delaying the checks will give an unfair advantage to continental rivals as UK produce arriving in the EU are subject to checks.
When will checks begin?
There’s no date as to when the changes will be introduced, with some industry insiders telling the BBC that they don’t expect any additional checks to come into play before the next general election, in January 2024, for which it is unlikely any new government would immediately mandate checks begin either.
This leaves a prolonged period of limbo for supply chains and the businesses which rely on them. When should they invest in the updated processes and procedures necessary, and if they do, could that be money down the drain?
At a time when inflation is still stubbornly embedded in the UK economy, it is unlikely any policy will be forced through onto businesses that will undoubtedly cause an increase in consumer prices.
But the period of limbo is harming UK producers, with the director of trade at the National Farmers Union, Nick von Westenholz, saying UK farmers were facing issues with exporting but continental competitors could export into the UK at will.
He said: “We appreciate the need to protect consumers from rising food prices, but it is vital that we introduce proportionate, light-touch checks on all our food imports that keep costs for importers to a minimum while properly managing biosecurity risks.”
Get support with the new post-Brexit trading environment
It’s been a tumultuous time for UK businesses adapting to the post-Brexit trading environment with new processes, delays and costs to mitigate.
The continued delay on UK checks on EU produce is a great example of businesses having to exist in a state of perpetual uneasiness – huge changes on the horizon with major consequences, but no clear idea as to when those changes will come into play… and when they should start preparing for them!
At Go Exporitng, we help import and export businesses of all sizes to adapt to the ever-changing tides of international trade, and we can do the same for you.