GB food and drink groups call for minimal checks on goods moved to Northern Ireland post-transition

Fri 23 Oct 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Food and drink companies have warned the government they may not be able to supply goods to Northern Ireland when the transition from the EU ends on 31 December, according to the Independent.

A letter from 39 industry bodies said it will “no longer be practical for many of our businesses to supply goods from Great Britain for sale in the Northern Ireland market” unless checks are minimised. 

Added cost

Producers set out their concerns with moving goods to Northern Ireland because of “the added cost, complexity and trade friction” of doing business after Brexit, the letter said.

New processes will be introduced for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021 under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

According to Business Insider the letter, sent to ministers Michael Gove and George Eustice, warned of unresolved issues that would affect thousands of food and drink companies in Great Britain that sell to Northern Ireland.

Labels, pallets and certificates

These include uncertainty over what labels British firms selling to Northern Ireland would have to use starting in January, a shortage of pallets compliant with international law and new requirements for moving animal and plant products.

Suppliers to Northern Ireland moving animal and plant goods in large quantities face extra costs in certification, it is claimed.

The 39 signatories include the following trade groups:
- The Food and Drink Federation
- Retail NI
- The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association
- UK Hospitality
- The Fresh Produce Consortium
- The Federation of Bankers
- The Federation of Wholesale Distributors
- The Food and Drink Exporters Association
- The British Soft Drinks Association
- The Scotch Whisky Association.

Government support available 

HM Government is supplying extensive support for companies moving goods to Northern Ireland, most notably in the £200m-funded Trader Support Service (TSS). The scheme aims to ease the administrative burden on firms trading in and out of Northern Ireland.

The free-to-use service guides companies through the changes they face and can complete declarations on their behalf. Companies can also benefit from training, supplied by the IOE&IT, to enhance the skills and understanding of their staff.

Firms that move goods between GB and NI can register free here to avail of advice and training on the new processes.