Retailers call for urgent action over NI food shortages

Retailers call for urgent action over NI food shortages

Chief executives from some of the UK’s major supermarkets are calling for “urgent intervention” following reports of food shortages across Northern Ireland’s retailers.

In a letter addressed to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, bosses from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer called for action in order to prevent further disruption to NI food supplies.

According to a BBC report, the letter read: “We accept clear progress needs to be made by 1/4/21 and are happy to discuss our issues and solutions directly with EU officials.

“However, until then we need an assurance that the current process based on a trusted trader scheme… doesn’t change until a workable replacement is agreed.”

“The grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers is working well, goods continue to flow effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and we are working intensively with industry as new requirements come in.”

Following the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland has remained in the EU single market, meaning food products entering NI from GB are now subjected to new checks. Export Health Certificates (EHC) are also required for animal products moving between the two countries.

Supermarkets were allowed a three-month ‘grace period’ from certain EU checks in order to prevent disruption after the transition. A Government spokesperson commented: “A new dedicated team in Government has already been set up and will be working with supermarkets, the food industry and the Northern Ireland Executive to develop ways to streamline the movement of goods in accordance with the protocol.

“The grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers is working well, goods continue to flow effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and we are working intensively with industry as new requirements come in.”

Commenting on the disruption, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “A small number of our products are temporarily unavailable for our customers in Northern Ireland while border arrangements are confirmed.”

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