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We look at the impact on suppliers and supermarkets following the Governments announcement that border checks are being delayed until late next year.

Following Brexit, the UK Government’s timeline for checks on all foods of animal origin imported from the EU was due to be implemented from 1 October 2021 and January 2022. However, a UK Government announcement recently has received a mixed response.

Any food of an animal origin being imported to the UK from the EU, from 1 October 2021, was required to have an accompanying export health certificate signed by a certified veterinarian from its country of origin before it could enter the UK. Further, physical checks of the produce were planned to commence from January 2022. The UK Government have announced that these checks are to be pushed back to July 2022.

So, what is the impact? Whilst this is good news for some within the supply chain, given the current shortage of HGV drivers and empty supermarket shelves, concerns are increasing over competition from EU counterparts. The EU imposed all the checks mentioned above from 1 January 2021 meaning all imports into the EU from the UK must be accompanied by the requisite certification. This raises the question as to whether UK buyers could source their produce cheaper from EU suppliers who are not burdened by the additional costs of certification. There has also been an inconsistent approach adopted by veterinary specialists resulting in a call for the UK Government to issue clear guidance going forward.

Commentary

This ‘push back’ of the rules may provide much needed additional time for some businesses to ensure their infrastructure is in place and ready for the additional checks to be performed. However, other businesses who have invested to ensure they were ready for the compliance checks may feel somewhat frustrated with the delay.

Even with the additional time, those businesses who are importing relevant products from the EU must ensure that they are ready. This should involve a review of the rules and ensuring their business systems are capable and ready to embrace the incoming additional checks without hindering production processes and adding additional time. Any delay in ensuring business robustness to deal with the forthcoming changes will undoubtedly impact not only productivity but also result in supply chain disruptions and subsequently profitability.

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