Frozen food supply threatened by import rules in the new year

The frozen food industry has warned that new border controls on animal and plant products from the EU could “see more disruption” to food supplies in the new year.

From 1 January 2022, importers are obliged to make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU or other countries.

Previously, traders could delay completing the full import customs declaration for up to 175 days, a measure introduced to cope with the disruption post-Brexit.

“Whilst the new UK rules will be introduced in stages, we are concerned that not enough planning has been done to ensure the new requirements are understood by everyone in the food supply chain,” said British Frozen Food Federation chief executive Richard Harrow.

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“A good example of this is a new HMRC process called the Goods Vehicle Management System (GVMS). The system is designed to enable HMRC to keep a track of loads containing meat and plant products in fast-moving roll-on-roll off ports such as Dover.

“The system requires haulage companies to pre-lodge the arrival of a load to the UK before it departs from the EU port of embarkation. Whilst many UK hauliers are well prepared for this change, we suspect many EU hauliers are not.”

The UK imports five times more food than it exports to the EU. As a result, the potential for delays and food supply issues in January is high.

Harrow added: “Whilst the UK authorities have said they will not stop vehicles that do not complete all the documents correctly, this assumes the EU port will allow a vehicle without the correct paperwork to leave port.”

“We are still finding new elements of the process that our members are unaware of, or lack of clarity on what they need to do to comply with the regulations.

“With only days to go before the new rules, we remain concerned that January could be a fraught month for our members.”

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