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‘Border chaos’ as companies try to export poultry to Europe

Graphic of global trade

LORRIES FULL of poultrymeat have been turned back from the European border over “minor” paperwork issues as businesses have struggled to deal with post-Brexit red tape.

There have been reports of meat going off because of delays and being sent for rendering, an unsustainable situation, according to the British Poultry Council’s chief executive Richard Griffiths.

See also: ‘Perfect storm’ of challenges for the poultrymeat sector

“This is something that businesses cannot resolve without support from the government,” he told Poultry.Network.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) says hauliers have reported long delays in getting clearance to export produce to Europe.

One told it that it had six trailers of produce waiting for customs clearance into the Republic of Ireland.

Clearance

One of the loads had to be returned to the processing company after waiting five days for clearance.

Another had 115 tonnes of fresh meat worth £500,000 stuck at the French border over a weekend while officials cleared paperwork – despite it being correct.

“The upshot is that this and many other companies have simply stopped producing and sending to the EU completely,” the BMPA’s chief executive Nick Allen said.


Volumes down

For the poultry sector, exports are running at about 20% of their usual levels, Mr Griffiths says.

There was a fear that, as companies increased volumes the system would not be able to cope.

And from April, the more enhanced checks will apply to produce imported into the UK, adding more pressure.

“Lots of companies have held off from sending anything, and some hauliers did not want to take anything with them. It’s not necessarily anything going wrong; it’s that the EU is applying third country status.”

Just in time

He also suggested that the paper-based export certification system was not geared up for ‘just in time’ fresh exports, being designed for receiving consignments of frozen produce where delays of a few days didn’t matter.

“Despite current export volumes being only a fraction (in some cases only 20%) of normal trade, the system is already creaking, and is only going to get worse once companies start ramping up their volumes again over the coming weeks,” added Mr Allen.

Breeding stock

The UK is an important exporter of genetic poultry stock, regularly shipping both hatching eggs and day-old chicks to Europe.

Mr Griffiths said that companies were now trying to export eggs, but had held off sending live birds until confidence returned that the journey could take place smoothly.