UK food manufacturers to face millions of pounds of new red tape costs


British food exporters are set to be hit with millions of pounds of new costs due to new EU post-Brexit bureaucracy from next month.

From 21 April, Brussels will make some UK food manufacturers fill out new health assessment forms when exporting to the EU that will increase paperwork by around one-third.

The new red tape will concern any UK food that is considered to be a multi-ingredient product, such as chocolate and crisps.

Products that are considered to be “shelf stable”, but still contain things like eggs, pasteurised milk and meat will require vet-checked health certificates when being shipped to the EU.

Manufacturers will also have to detail where ingredients come from as a part of the checks in a process known as “attestation”.

The new rules will also be imposed on goods being shipped across the Irish Sea, as Northern Ireland still follows the EU’s customs union and single market rules, which could create further tensions.

Food and Drink Federation chief Ian Wright told The Financial Times that the new rules would make exporting to Northern Ireland unviable.

“The added bureaucracy will prove costly to businesses of all sizes . . . it is vital that any checks which are undertaken are done so in a proportionate manner,” he said.

The Chilled Food Association’s Karin Goodburn said: “The question is whether all this new administrative cost can be borne, given existing profit margins. Even the ‘attestations’ are not simple, they can go on for pages and pages for every component in every food.”

It comes as the UK is considering delaying new border checks on food being imported from the EU that are due to come in on 1 April.

New cabinet minister, and Boris Johnson’s former Brexit negotiator, Lord David Frost has asked Whitehall officials to draw up plans to change the timetable to ensure supply chains are not disrupted this summer.

The EU imposed complete border controls on goods entering the bloc from the UK on 1 January when the Brexit transition period ended, however Boris Johnson opted to have a transition period for goods coming the other way.

The new customs procedures caused extensive delays and product waste for some British exporters, with the seafood and meat industries particularly affected.