Collaborate on new customs processes or pay higher prices – European suppliers warn UK retailers

Fri 30 Apr 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

brexit customs

British retailers have been told to collaborate with their European suppliers more closely on new post-Brexit customs requirements to avoid the prospect of paying higher prices for goods from the continent.

Although British exporters already have to complete declarations and other customs processes to export goods to the EU, controls on imports are being introduced in phases and won’t be required for all goods until 2022.

However, European suppliers have already been impacted by new non-tariff barriers such as increased logistical costs and additional VAT charges since the end of the transition period.

No support

Dutch firm Moolenaar – a supplier of flower bulbs and seeds to Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer – told the Grocer that UK retail prices will increase if British retailers do not better collaborate with their European suppliers on these new processes. 

They said some retailers were refusing to help them with their new post-Brexit logistical requirements even though they often had in-house teams already working on these processes. 

‘Your problem’

Moolenaar CEO Ian Rasmussen said that while some were helpful, “there’s a number of retailers saying we don’t want to hear about it, you’re the exporter, it’s your problem”.

He said retailers that worked with their suppliers would benefit from better pricing.


Some plant products are already required to undergo physical inspections in the UK, including those sold by Moolenaar.

While some supermarkets have allowed this to take place at their distribution centres, others have asked for the goods to be taken to another location in the UK meaning additional transport costs and delays for the supplier.


Some EU companies have even threatened to abandon the UK due to the struggles British firms have had adapting to the new post-Brexit rules, reports the Express.

Representatives from the food sector have warned about the “nightmare” situation when further paperwork and rules come into effect later in the year and in 2022.

Karin Goodburn, director-general of the Chilled Food Association, warned the UK Trade and Business Commission that EU food manufacturers are already threatening to abandon the UK.

“When we start applying these types of things on the import checks coming into Great Britain, I don’t think our continental cousins are going to know what’s hit them,” she said. “I’ve already been told by a Belgian association that a couple of their major members aren’t going to try to send food here anymore.”

Germans look elsewhere

The BBC has also reported evidence of disruption to British trade with Germany.

A survey of 93 companies that were active in British-German trade before the end of last year, carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany with KPMG, found that most firms now face higher costs.

The report also found that one in six companies had decided to cease exports to the UK altogether.

More than a fifth have been replacing UK suppliers with those in other countries and only around 30% intend to look for new sales markets and product opportunities inside the British-German “corridor”.