The UK’s food supply problems are likely to worsen due to the additional bureaucracy of Brexit which will go into effect in a few weeks, the companies have warned.
From October 1, the UK will start checking the documents that must be completed for imports of meat, dairy products and certain other types of food from the EU.
On January 1, physical checks will begin on shipments of the same products. Non-compliant goods risk being rejected.
So far, while EU countries have rigorously enforced veterinary and food safety checks on shipments from Britain, the government has waived the requirement for goods to go to the other sense.
Certification requirements and similar controls at the EU border wreaked havoc when the transition period ended at the start of the year, forcing some exporters to throw away goods.
The rules have also contributed to a “catastrophic” drop in UK food and drink exports to the EU this year, according to a new analysis from the Food and Drink Federation.
Exports fell by £ 2 billion, with the value of sales to Germany, Spain and Italy all falling by more than a third, the FDF reported.
Imports from the EU also fell 11.2% (or nearly £ 1.7 billion) in a year, according to the analysis, which compared the first six months of this year with the same six months in 2020.
The government said it had taken a “pragmatic” approach to the new checks and had already delayed their introduction by six months to give businesses time to adjust.
Some EU-based food importers claim that the additional cost and bureaucracy will make a large number of shipments unsustainable, as has been the case for UK exporters of food and drink products including cheese and vegetables. shellfish.
The new processes apply to animal products, animal by-products and high-risk non-animal foods imported into Britain from the EU.
Importers will need to ensure that the goods are accompanied by the correct certification, including an export health certificate, and that imports are pre-notified using a government computer system 4 hours before point of Entrance.
From January 1, pre-notifications must be submitted 24 hours in advance, a requirement that could create major difficulties for exporters of fresh produce. Document control will be carried out remotely.
Michael Szydlo, an entrepreneur whose company provides software and support to businesses importing goods from the EU to the UK, said the additional checks would cause problems.
“I think the situation will definitely get worse in October and even worse in January.” Mr Szydlo said. “I always get calls from European companies telling me ‘we’ve heard we need to do customs declarations. What is that ?’
“A lot of companies just don’t know what to do yet.
“With food, everything is very critical. The process is very manual and Defra requires notification in advance.”
A truck loaded with food from Poland might require certificates covering 300 different products, Szydlo said.
He is also concerned that the government’s software for recording exploitation declarations is causing delays. He said he hoped the UK would officially delay the date on which additional controls would be introduced or take a lenient approach to enforcement.
Strict enforcement of food safety controls could cause more problems for UK supplies, but the government insists businesses need to be prepared for the October deadline and has done enough to help.
A spokesperson said: “We have taken a pragmatic approach to [the introduction of checks], spreading them out over several months and implementing them six months later than initially planned to give businesses time to adapt.
“We’ve helped explain the new processes, including hosting webinars that have been widely watched, and over 11,000 people have already signed up for the new systems introduced as of October 1. “
The government did not specify how the “phasing in” of controls would be carried out. Mr Szydlo, who attended a recent government webinar, said it had not been made clear that the controls would be phased in.
A source from Whitehall said that for the first three months after October 1, goods would not be refused entry due to unintentional errors in documentation. Instead, importers would “receive feedback to ensure these errors do not recur”.
The government plans to provide summaries of common errors that will be shared through EU member states and trade associations to improve overall compliance.
Mr. Szydlo wondered if the leeway offered by the government would have many advantages. He said: ‘I suspect that although technically the charges will not be turned back or stopped, it will still mean that many companies will not want to send their goods to the UK or import goods to the UK as Health certificates and pre-notifications are always required whether applied or not.
Another Polish businessman, who imports meat to UK from the EU, said: ‘The shortages you have seen now are nothing compared to what you are about to see .
“I think a lot of businesses will struggle because no one has had to do this paperwork in the past 40 years.
“I don’t think any country is ready: UK, Spain, Poland, Germany, no one”