TRADE with the European Union must be placed on a level playing field, the British Poultry Council’s chief executive Richard Griffiths has said.

British exporters of poultrymeat have faced higher costs since 1 January 2021, contributing to the cost of production crisis that is leading to production scaling back in the UK.

See also: NFU Scotland calls for poultrymeat supply chain investigation

And, while additional administration and red tape have been introduced for companies exporting chicken to Europe, it has yet to be brought in for European businesses importing poultry into the UK.

Mr Griffiths was speaking at a panel session (link to session video) at the Trade Unlocked conference held in late June,

He said the additional administration and red tape introduced for companies exporting chicken to Europe had cost “well over £100 million since 1 January 2021”.

Level playing field

By contrast, European exporters had yet to face any additional costs and were, therefore, “at a commercial advantage”.

The lack of a level playing field is combined with a Government that “is not defending our food standards”, Mr Griffiths told the event.

“It is vital that our standards aren’t dropped in pursuit of filling gaps on shop shelves that retailers aren’t willing to pay a fair price for,” he said.

“Imported poultry must meet our standards as a condition of entry.

‘Safe, affordable, and nutritious food’

“That’s what a fair approach to import checks with EU guarantees: a level playing field for UK-EU trade recognises our standards, backs our farmers and food producers, and ensures safe, affordable, and nutritious food.

“We all want to avoid the stress additional checks pose to food supply; exporting sectors and industries like our own have suffered the pains of Brexit, those so-called ‘teething problems,’ since day one.

“But the ongoing impact of an unlevel playing field is just as big a problem for accessible and affordable food.

“The cost of not having fair and reciprocated checks is greater than the burdens that come with them – particularly in the absence of an SPS Agreement, in which those burdens could be addressed, and checks potentially scrapped altogether to let trade flow freely in both directions.”