BMPA says Government is putting £1.2 billion of trade at risk
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has launched a new campaign targeted at Government to expose what it calls “glaring weaknesses” in Brexit preparations that puts £1.2 billion worth of trade at risk.
Despite reassurances from Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week that the UK is ready for any eventuality with Brexit, the BMPA says a number of key issues remain unsolved. It also added that Brexit contingency preparations are proceeding at a snail’s pace and the UK Government’s ‘Brexit Report Card’ reveals some glaring weaknesses in an export system that is about to become massively overloaded.
Chief executive of the BMPA, Nick Allen, said: “After months of meetings and talks with Government which have yielded little progress, the British meat industry, along with other sectors that rely on overseas trade, has lost patience and we are calling publicly for Government to step up the pace and solve these issues before it is too late.”
“With less than four months to go Britain has a woeful lack of infrastructure and people to operate the new export system which if not addressed, will result in massive delays, extra cost and lost orders.”
Export Health Certificates
Currently, of all the consignments of meat products dispatched from the UK each year, only those to ‘Third Countries’ require Export Health Certificates. This represents a tiny percentage of the total number of consignments leaving the country, according to the BMPA, as the remainder are delivered to EU countries, often as smaller mixed loads known as ‘groupage’.
After the 31st December, all consignments, including those to the EU, will require an Export Health Certificate, meaning the system will have to cope with a flood of new applications. The BMPA is calling for firm assurances from Government that the new system will be up and running at full capacity by the end of the year.
Because all meat exports after the 31st December, including those to the EU, will require an Export Health Certificate, this also means that every overseas consignment from every meat plant across the country will need to be inspected by an official veterinarian prior to dispatch. Currently only third country exports require this.
The BMPA says that there are simply not enough trained vets in the UK to cover this additional workload and Government needs to disclose how they are going to resolve this issue.
Health & ID Marks
The organisation is also calling for definitive confirmation that the new Government proposed Health Marks, which are used to certify the export standard, have been agreed with all our trading partners.
Without this nothing can be exported, according to the BMPA. It adds that without this, orders from September onwards because of the 3 to 4-month lead times involved. Those orders will be scooped up by Britain’s competitors.
Groupage (the convenience of mixed loads of products)
Deliveries of meat destined for the EU currently makes use of the fact that small, regular consignments can be grouped together into big ones and sent off on a daily basis, which is both cost effective and reduces waste.
After the 31st December, this option will not be available because Government guidelines state that groupage of fresh and frozen meat is not allowed to third countries, which the EU will by then become. The BMPA says that if this doesn’t change and UK companies can no longer use groupage, they will be at a significant competitive disadvantage and very likely lose orders.
Nick Allen added: “Our message to the Government is that this is NOT good enough. They have had four years to prepare and have known all along that these technical issues will need to be addressed regardless of whether or not we get a deal. We’re now less than four months from the end of the transition period and we can’t stay silent on the lack of progress any longer.”