Perishable food must be prioritised at ports, says BMPA
The £8.7 billion trade in meat, the bulk of which currently flows seamlessly to and from the EU and keeps the just-in-time food supply chain moving, is about to run into a huge brick wall.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has expressed its bitter disappointment in Government, following its decision not to prioritise perishable foods at UK ports.
Under the new rules, if lorry is carrying anything other than fresh or live seafood products or day-old chicks, it will have to join the queue behind other lorries carrying everything from toasters to tissues.
“New customs system will cause chaos and standstills at the point when British companies need it most.
“Our EU customers – the big supermarket chains and food service companies – are not concerned with how good or bad our customs system is, they just need to know we can deliver what they want, on time,” said Nick Allen, CEO of the BMPA.
“Every extra hour that fresh meat is delayed in transit causes problems further on in the supply chain which devalues it. If expected delivery times extend beyond a certain point, it must be frozen which devalues it further and turns it into a very different product that isn’t what our customers are demanding and which they could buy from anywhere else in the world.
“If fresh meat exports do not get priority over products like toasters (which don’t devalue every hour they’re delayed) it will undermine the reputation of British meat and remove a big competitive advantage British meat processors have over other countries, which is the ability to deliver fresh chilled meat to EU customers in a timely manner.
“Every extra hour that fresh meat is delayed in transit causes problems further on in the supply chain which devalues it.
“If meat exports are delayed, customers will simply start sourcing their meat from elsewhere. So, we are calling on Government to implement a graduated system to prioritise goods for export, with perishable food like sausages and fresh meat given a higher priority”.
The new 27-acre lorry park being built in the Kent countryside serves as a reminder of the massive trade disruption to come in January. Rather than ‘Keep Business Moving’ as the latest Government marketing campaign trumpets, the BMPA believes the new customs system will cause chaos and standstills at the point when British companies need it most.