The worst of the supply chain disruption resulting from the implementation of the NI Protocol should be over, the UK’s leading retail body told MPs this week.
Andrew Opie, director of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said supply shortages for Northern Ireland supermarkets had now been “overcome, pretty much”.
Opie pinned blame for supply chain disruption on the late finalisation of new trade rules and procedures at the end of last year, the BBC reports.
“We did not get the final confirmation of how products could move until 31 December for a 1 January start,” he told the parliamentary committee on the Future Relationship with the EU. “Therefore, some products had more of a problem or were being held back for supply into Northern Ireland.”
Opie suggested firms use the government’s Trader Support Service and Movement Assistance Scheme to get to grips with the new administrative requirements, but warned there was a shortage of official vets to sign Export Health Certificates, Food Manufacture reports.
HMRC introduced a three-month grace period exempting trade of products of animal origin involving supermarkets from full export health certification requirements. A second grace period was bought in for fresh meat products going into NI.
However, the food industry is calling for a further extension of this easements, according to the Times.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said that without alterations to the UK’s new trade arrangements with the EU, the industry would have to rethink its supply routes.
“Unless the deal changes in some material way we are going to see the re-engineering of almost all the EU-UK and GB-NI supply chains over the next six months,” he told MPs.