Post-Brexit trade system creates new headache for UK meat exporters as delays cause imminent loss of EU market

UK – The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has bemoaned the delays at the borders with the European Union (EU) which have been occasioned by the new post-Brexit trade system.

The Association noted that since implementation of the system, there have been numerous reports of major losses for UK-based meat exporters.

According to BMPA, many of the exporters says that that perishable meat products destined for the EU were delayed so much at the border and rotted consignments had to be thrown away.

Excessive bureaucratic system cause delays

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Alongside seafood, fresh meat is one of the most time critical perishable products it is of paramount importance  that not too much time is lost in transit.

This however does not seem to be the case in the UK-EU borders with some truck drivers being delayed for up to 5 days at the border.

Instead of a digitized border clearance system, border official are using a paper-based system which the Vet has to check manually and stamp before meat is allowed to cross the border.

The whole process puts 24 to 48 hours on the time a delivery can be made depending on if it gets a full inspection at the port.

BMPA says that when a lorry load of meat is delayed, it increases the chance of that order either being reduced in price, cancelled and returned or, in the most severe cases, thrown away and ending up in landfill.

Imminent loss of EU market

Pegged as simple “teething problems” by some, the delays threaten to have far reaching consequences on the British meat industry as a whole.

Continued access to the EU market would for instance be threatened as customers move to other regions within the EU for their supplies.

“If continental supermarkets are unable to have products delivered the way they need them to be, this trade will simply be lost as EU customers abandon UK suppliers and source product from European processors,” says Nick Allen, BMPA chief executive

“Members are already being told by their EU customers that they’ll be looking to Spain and Ireland to buy products from now on.”

Calls for modernization of Border clearance

Given the adverse impacts that the new post-Brexit system has had on the meat industry in the UK, the BMPA is calling for urgent measures to be put in place to address the “plethora of problems” they have been experiencing.

“We are calling for the current customs and certification system to be modernized and digitized, as the existing paper-based system is a relic from the last century and simply not fit for purpose,” says Allen.

Allen notes that if the problem is not fixed quickly “it will be the thing that starts to dismantle the European trade British companies have fought so hard to win”.

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