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Fears of Food Price Surge


The UK government has unveiled the import charges for EU food products post-Brexit, revealing potential implications for food prices and supply chains.

Small imports of items such as fish, salami, sausage, cheese, and yoghurt will incur fees of up to £145 starting from April 30, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The “common user charge,” applied to animal products, plants, and plant products entering the UK from the EU through the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel at Folkestone, has raised concerns within the food industry. The Cold Chain Federation warns that these charges could lead to increased food prices, ultimately impacting businesses and consumers.

Phil Pluck, Chief Executive of the Cold Chain Federation, highlights that the fees will likely be passed on to EU importers, smaller UK retailers, or UK consumers, resulting in elevated business costs and potentially reduced consumer choices.

The introduction of these charges aims to fund border inspections and new facilities in Kent to safeguard biosecurity. However, industry voices such as the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) express skepticism, criticizing the policy’s hasty implementation and potential ramifications on costs and consumer options.

James Barnes, Chairman of the HTA, underscores the disproportionate impact on horticultural businesses, anticipating increased costs and diminished consumer choices due to the flat-rate charge structure.

Labour echoes concerns about rising prices and supply chain disruptions, emphasizing the need for measures to alleviate bureaucratic burdens. Shadow Minister Nick Thomas-Symonds urges negotiation with the EU to minimize the need for checks, thereby reducing costs and enhancing competitiveness for British businesses.

In response, the government defends the charges as necessary to recover operating costs for border facilities and safeguard the food supply, farmers, and environment. A spokesperson emphasizes consultation with industry and the cap set to assist smaller businesses in adapting to new border checks.

As the UK navigates post-Brexit realities, the disclosure of import charges underscores ongoing challenges for businesses and consumers alike. Business Matters examines the implications of these charges and the broader implications for the UK’s food industry in a changing regulatory landscape.

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