Brexit Imposes New Border Controls on UK Food Imports, Prompting Concerns of Price Hikes

by Ella

New border controls on certain food imports from the European Union have been implemented in the UK, marking the first post-Brexit border bureaucracy for EU food producers. The controls, which affect products like meat, eggs, fish, and dairy, require “export health certificates” and additional paperwork for entry into the United Kingdom.

The UK government’s projections indicate that these checks, including physical inspections starting in April, will cost British businesses approximately £330 million ($419 million) annually and could raise food inflation by around 0.2 percentage points over three years. However, some industry experts are cautioning that the impact on inflation may be more significant.


This development represents a shift as UK food producers exporting to the EU have faced full border controls for three years, while the UK delayed implementing checks on EU food imports multiple times due to concerns about potential disruptions to essential supplies.


The new controls aim to prevent the introduction of diseases and pests from plant and animal products, with the UK government emphasizing its commitment to having the “most advanced border in the world.”


A government spokesperson stated, “The changes we’re bringing in will help keep the UK safe, while protecting our food supply chains and our agricultural sector from disease outbreaks that would cause significant economic harm.”


Despite the government’s assertions, industry groups are raising alarms about potential disruptions to supplies and price increases for staples, particularly when physical border checks commence at the end of April.

The British Meat Processors Association expressed concerns about a potential “sudden shock to the food supply chain,” citing issues such as growing differences in food safety rules between the UK and EU and a shortage of EU veterinarians available to sign export health certificates.

The association warned, “Even if vets can sign off, many smaller EU suppliers will simply stop exporting to the UK due to the extra bureaucracy.” Given that the UK relies on the EU for a significant portion of its beef, sheep meat, and pork, the impact could be substantial.

Food price inflation in the UK peaked at over 19% in March of the previous year, the highest rate in 45 years. Although it decreased to 8% in December, prices continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace than the preceding year.

Rising food prices have contributed significantly to the nation’s cost-of-living crisis, and concerns are mounting that the added costs and disruptions to supply chains will exacerbate the situation.

A coalition of 30 trade organizations representing the UK food supply chain recently expressed apprehension, stating that the new border measures would “impact the flow of critical food ingredients” from the EU to the UK. They emphasized that UK health certificates do not cover all EU goods imported by the food industry, potentially leading to shortages in critical ingredients for various food products.

In a letter to the environment secretary, Steve Barclay, the trade organizations highlighted that certain EU goods, such as liquid eggs mixed with sugar, will no longer be permitted to enter the UK. This, they warned, could adversely affect the production of foods like desserts, mayonnaise, sauces, and baked goods, impacting food security and product availability in the country.



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