The UK is not ready for import controls on EU goods that are being introduced later this year, fruit and veg suppliers have warned.
That is according to the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) which says there is a lack of preparedness among its businesses for the new rules – an issue which is being compounded by going staff shortages.
Importers of goods that are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls – including meats, cheeses, eggs and also plant products such as fruit and veg – are required to start providing export health certificates for imports from the EU from 1 October.
These traders will also be required to pre-notify customs authorities of their goods movements via the new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).
All imports will be subject to customs controls – including the requirement to complete frontier declarations – from 1 January 2022.
Pressure on teams
FPC CEO Nigel Jenney told the Grocer that his members were having to bring admin staff on to the factory floor due to a lack of resources. He also said the new post-Brexit arrangements were heaping “more and more pressure” on them.
“We’re not saying we want to go back to how it was [pre-Brexit]. What we’re saying is we need an efficient solution for a highly efficient industry, and we don’t have the confidence that’ll be offered,” he said.
The industry remains unsure about how checks on consignments – which could include up to 400 unique products per lorry – will be managed without causing delays.
Trials of new import IT infrastructure have yet not happened, Jenney claimed.
He called for the government to work with the EU on an electronic phytosanitary certificate system to avoid the industry having to handle 1.5 million documents annually.
Exporters are also worried about border rules.
Marks and Spencer boss Archie Norman has railed against border regulations in the Daily Mail, saying that up to 1,000 tonnes of food could go to waste because of EU controls on the continent and Ireland causing delays.