Brexit Leaves Some Meat Shipments Rotting at European Border

Scottish fisherman have suffered lengthy delays in shipping cargoes to Europe in the aftermath of Brexit. Now, British meat is facing crippling hold-ups from extra red tape at the border.

The U.K.’s departure from the European Union at the end of last year has ushered in new restrictions, with customs checks and health certificates now required for meat exports. That’s left some consignments languishing in queues, with a member of the British Meat Processors Association recently reporting that one cargo was about to be returned after waiting five days for clearance into Ireland, the group said Monday in a statement.

“Every hour a lorry load of meat is delayed increases the chance of that order either being reduced in price, canceled and returned or, in the most severe cases, thrown away and ending up in landfill,” the association said. “The new post-Brexit customs system for meat products is convoluted, archaic and badly implemented.”

Most shippers curbed EU trade to about a fifth of normal at the start of January to test the new system, but are likely to face added border chaos as they ramp up volumes alongside other industries. Some EU customers are already signaling that they’ll switch from British meat to products from Spain or Ireland, said Nick Allen, the association’s chief.

About 60% of British food, feed and drink exports headed to the EU last year, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. Costs for livestock trade could rise by 5% to 8%, even with the free-trade deal, due to the friction caused from paperwork, labeling and physical checks.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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