Fears are expressed by leaders in the food industry about possible delays and shortages caused by European suppliers being unable to adapt to new rules at their borders.

  • Stringent import checks came into force due to Britain’s departure from the EU 
  • More than £230 billion of products are imported in the UK from the EU each year
  • Due to the extra bureaucracy, EU shipping must have complete customs declarations

Fears of shortages and delays in food production have been raised by leaders from the industry. They claim that European suppliers may not be ready to comply with new border restrictions being imposed on Saturday.

Stringent import checks came into force yesterday as a result of Britain’s departure from the European Union a year ago. 

More than £230 billion of products – including more than a quarter of Britain’s food supplies – are imported from the EU each year.

However, this extra bureaucracy means EU shipping to the UK will require full customs declarations as well proof of tariff exemption.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, representing frozen and chilled food suppliers

Shane Brennan is the chief executive officer of Cold Chain Federation. He represents chilled and frozen food suppliers.

Senior industry figures last night raised concern over the preparedness of EU businesses – particularly smaller suppliers – warning that a lack of awareness, incorrect paperwork and time-consuming extra checks at borders could have a significant impact on imports.

More than 1000 businesses are represented by the Food and Drink Federation. They have sent members special guidance on how to comply with new import restrictions. 

It warned that the trade barriers risk ‘blocking deliveries from EU suppliers altogether, at least temporarily’.

According to the federation, UK exports to the bloc fell by 40% to 60% by value during the first three months last year when EU trade restrictions were in place. Similar trends could also be seen in imports, it said.

The situation ‘presents a real risk which could disrupt the operation of UK supply chains where a critically important ingredient is delayed or fails to arrive’.

Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, representing frozen and chilled food suppliers, said: ‘This will make it harder for the smallest businesses to sell their goods.

The Food and Drink Federation, which represents more than 1,000 businesses, has sent special guidance to members on the new import rules

Members have received special guidance from the Food and Drink Federation (which represents over 1,000 companies) regarding new import regulations

‘Some will choose not to do that anymore. So we could see those products no longer being stocked in restaurants and supermarkets.’

Sunday’s Mail interview with supermarkets revealed that they have been in close contact with their suppliers. 

One said the Government had told them it would be ‘pragmatic’ about enforcing the new rules.