The UK is not ready for the new import controls on EU goods that come into force at the beginning of October, fruit and veg suppliers have warned.
The announcement came from the UK's Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) which says there is a lack of adequate preparation in the industry for the new rule; an issue which is being compounded by going staff shortages.
Importers of goods who are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls, including meats, cheeses, eggs and also plant products such as fruit and veg, will need to begin providing export health certificates for imports from the EU from 1 October.
Traders will also be required to pre-notify customs authorities of their goods movements via the new Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS).
All imports will be subject to customs controls – including the requirement to complete frontier declarations – from 1 January 2022.
FPC Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney, told the Grocer that his members were having to bring admin staff on to the factory floor due to a lack of resources. He also said the new post-Brexit arrangements were heaping “more and more pressure” on them.
“We’re not saying we want to go back to how it was [pre-Brexit]. What we’re saying is we need an efficient solution for a highly efficient industry, and we don’t have the confidence that’ll be offered,” he said.
"The implementation delays are driven solely by the Governments failure to develop and implement their new border infrastructure and IT model on time. This situation remains unchanged," he continued.
"There are countless areas of uncertainty where we simply cannot get the necessary information to support adequate business preparation.
"The questions asked of Government haven't changed in years and the so called "support and advice" doesn't answer the questions, including attendance on countless online events," he added.
"We remain keen to find effective solutions and share our extensive knowledge.
"As an industry we fully acknowledge our biosecurity responsibilities. However the Government should also accept their responsibility to feed and flower the nation.
"We again request they urgently resolve the uncertainty for suppliers of home grown and imported fresh produce," he concluded.