The introduction of new UK import rules on 1 January has the potential to create more disruption to food supplies, the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) has said.
“Whilst the new UK rules will be introduced in stages, we are concerned that not enough planning has been done to ensure the new requirements are understood by everyone in the food supply chain," commented Richard Harrow, BFFF chief executive (pictured).
From 1 January, importers will be required to make a full customs declaration on goods entering the UK from the EU and other countries. Traders will no longer be able to delay completing full import customs declarations for up to 175 days, a measure that was introduced to cope with the disruption of Brexit.
According to the BFFF, this has the potential to lead to 'major delays' at ports in the New Year.
“Whilst the UK authorities have said they will not stop vehicles that do not complete all the documents correctly, this assumes the EU port will allow a vehicle without the correct paperwork to leave port," Harrow added.
The UK imports five times the amount of food than it exports to the EU, so, the potential for massive delays and food supply issues in January is high, the BFFF added.
Goods Vehicle Management System
One area of potential friction is around the introduction of the Goods Vehicle Management System (GVMS) by UK revenue and customs services, which requires haulage companies to pre-lodge the arrival of a load to the UK before it departs from the EU port of embarkation.
According to Harrow, while UK hauliers are "well prepared" for this change, many EU hauliers may not be.
“We are still finding new elements of the process that our members are unaware of, or lack of clarity on what they need to do to comply with the regulations. With only days to go before the new rules, we remain concerned that January could be a fraught month for our members," he said.