UK meat industry at risk of losing European orders from September
18th June 2020
UK meat sector will start losing EU orders within 12 weeks unless government provides clarity on trade arrangements.
British meat companies will start losing orders from EU customers from September onwards, unless the UK government clarifies within the next few weeks what export certification and tariff arrangements will be in place after the Brexit transition period.
This is because orders, particularly from European retailers, are planned 3-4 months in advance to allow for pricing, barcoding and any promotions that need to go on the packaging.
The warning came from Nick Allen, the CEO of the British Meat Processors Association, the trade body that represents some of the largest meat companies in the UK.
Mr Allen said “There is a worrying lack of information coming out of Government on the crucial issues of the formal approval of the UK to export meat products to the EU and the approval of our meat plants. If this process is delayed till the autumn there will be huge uncertainty about our status from 1st January and UK exporters will not be able to agree forward contracts. There is also deep concern over provision of an army of extra veterinary inspectors that will be required by law as soon as the transition period ends. These additional vets will need to sign-off consignments of EU bound meat products. Currently nobody is taking responsibility for these issues and a lack of certainty could see export orders grind to a halt.”
Mr Allen added “Until now, companies have only needed an invoice to ship goods to the EU. But after the transition period ends, there will be a whole new set of Export Health Certificates and ID markings needed to be able to trade with Europe, none of which has been addressed as yet. And, to compound the problem, our EU customers may well be saddled with tariffs of up to 40% on UK meat exports.”
If these arrangements are not in place soon, our long time EU customers will be confronted with multiple risks which they won’t be prepared to take. Without knowing what the price will be or even if they’ll be allowed to bring particular goods into the country, committing to any orders or supply contracts that extend after 31 December will make no sense whatsoever to EU buyers or, indeed, customers elsewhere in the world.
The obvious solution will be to turn their back on UK exporters and source product from our competitors who will be happy to take trade away from British meat processors.
What is needed
The British Meat Processors Association is urgently calling for the Government to release badly needed information on Export Health Certificates and to produce guidance on what tariffs exporters can expect to be applied to meat products well before September this year. Without clarity and certainty, millions of pounds of export trade and many jobs could be lost.