Food exporters set to sever relations with EU for good due to Brexit | New
Exporters are increasingly concerned that short-term Brexit disruptions will turn in the second half of 2021 into the permanent loss of some EU markets.
Many exporters have so far responded to the Brexit challenge by putting “bandages on gunshot wounds,” said Neil Hammill, Cambridge Commodities commercial director. However, he said many are now wondering whether to stop exporting the goods which encountered the worst friction upon arrival in the EU.
These were mostly animal products and organic products, Hamill said. “I feel like we’re going to end up putting them in the ‘too hard box’ over there and say, ‘OK, this is what’s left’, and it could be a company that’s 75% the size. “
When the business deal was struck in December last year, Alex Matheson, partner of food and beverage retailer Fresh Marketing, expected the first few months to be “a little chaotic,” but that company would find a way to make it work.
But now, a little over five months later, “some of our routes are becoming completely impractical,” he said, pointing to occasions when “hundreds of hours” had been spent trying to find a way to send goods worth £ 2,000.
“It’s not sustainable for us, it’s not sustainable for customers, and it’s not sustainable for brands. The only sensible thing for the importer to do is find the products elsewhere, ”added Matheson.
Spain, Portugal and Italy in particular were raising “horrible problems”, according to its trading partner Barney Mauleverer, as local authorities applied “different interpretations of the rules” compared to other EU countries. This includes the new requirements for export health certificates for composite products. “A lot of times Spain insists we need a health certificate, the UK says no,” Mauleverer said.
The confusion has forced Fresh Marketing to ship goods via Belgium for the Spanish market, while food destined for Portugal is redirected through Malta. “I think these importers will give up and turn their attention to the fruits at hand,” Mauleverer said.
Sandra Sullivan of the Food & Drink Exporters Association said many companies had hoped earlier this year that new trade rules with the EU would change. “But the point is, this is EU law. It’s the rules. It is sinking now and companies are starting to change their business models.
She pointed to a major tea brand that has now completely shut down organic exports because “it’s just too difficult”. Organic has been one of the food sectors most affected by Brexit, with challenges including the re-export of goods arriving in the UK from third countries.