After extensive lobbying by FPC, the government has opted to omit those goods from the so-called “medium-risk category” laid out in the UK’s new Border Target Operating Model (TOM) draft issued early in April. This means that fresh produce imports into the UK from the EU will be excluded from safety checks under new border proposals in a move welcomed by the industry body.
Since the publication of the Target Operating Model (TOM) in early April, FPC have engaged consistently with Defra since Brexit in 2016 to forewarn of the impacts of their original and revised border strategy.
Had the industry been forced to adopt the proposed Target Operating Model businesses would have faced inspection at Border Control Posts or Control Points at levels as high as 3% for each consignment (not vehicle) ’Medium Risk’ fruit and vegetables imported from the EU, causing significant disruption.
Given these proposed levels of inspections and the industry’s least cost, highly efficient supply chains, this would have a devastating financial impact. The reliance of groupage and direct deliveries from the EU offering UK customers a complex mix of goods adds a level of complexity which, whilst not unique, is certainly challenging.
FPC have ensured that this has been at the forefront of all discussions.
FPC’s CEO Nigel Jenney stated: “The original proposed strategy would have potentially imposed an additional annual cost to the Fresh Produce industry in excess of £150m.
"Ultimately these costs would be passed on to hard pressed consumers with the UK Government being directly responsible for unnecessary UK food inflation.”
This welcomed decision by the Government means that phytosanitary certificates will NO LONGER be required from fruit and vegetables coming from the EU in October 2023 (as originally required) nor will these produce items be subject to official inspections at the border from 31 January 2024.
Cut flowers and plants (and parts of) from the EU WILL however be included in this Medium Risk category and WILL be subject to the controls and the proposed strategy remains unchanged.
This decision to exclude fruit and vegetables will be subject to review however and there may be revisions to this in April 2024.
The risk categorisation for Rest of World goods will be published in the summer of 2023.
"We welcome the Governments progressive approach, but they must deliver a least cost, world leading border solution to promote UK food security," continued Jenney.
"This in turn will minimise cost to hard pressed consumers and ensure that fruit and vegetables are available as part of a healthy diet.
"The changes are welcomed but Government must fast track our proposed solution for a more effective border control by adopting Authorised Operators. This will allow responsible businesses to manage their own official border inspections at a time and location that minimises the impact and cost whilst maximising biosecurity," Jenney added.
"In addition, we remain extremely concerned regarding the Governments proposal to introduce a “Common User Charge” on all consignments arriving via some ports to in effect subsidise the Government’s own Border Control Points (BCPs) e.g., Sevington. This proposed charging will add around £11m annually to the cost of EU fresh produce," he concluded.
FPC will be holding an industry event on 5th May 1-4pm at University of Lincoln to clarify the revised risk categorisation. They advise that all members responsible for bringing produce into the UK from the EU and beyond attend this event to ensure that they are familiar with any forthcoming changes.