The Fresh Produce Consortium welcomes the UK Government’s decision to revise the timetable for import controls and not to introduce the requirement for phytosanitary certificates for EU imports of fresh fruit and vegetables produce on 1 April.
The UK Government has recognised the enormity of the challenges facing the UK fresh produce industry and its European partners, as well as its own plant health inspection service. It realises that it must get its act together before imposing on the UK fresh produce industry the next stage of significant change.
This decision would not have happened without extensive lobbying by the Fresh Produce Consortium.
Whilst we have secured this temporary reprieve we hope that it will enable the UK plant health authorities to put in place the much need electronic certification system which is essential to alleviate several issues we have identified before pre-notification is introduced.
APHA must improve its current inspection service now. UK importers are experiencing significant problems with high risk plant products due to poor availability of plant health inspectors, delays in inspections and clearance of consignments. This has resulted in highly perishable products having to be thrown away and potential loss of contracts with customers.
Much of the friction our industry is facing is due to decisions made by our own government in implementing necessary changes, the systems it has chosen to adopt, and their lack of coordination with industry and its highly efficient supply chains.
The UK fresh produce industry needs assurance that the UK plant health inspection regime is fit for purpose and ready to take on an additional million plant health certificates each year for fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers and plants.
If we want world leading border solutions and a thriving economy then the government must listen to industry.
We are pleased to have this indication that the UK Government may be starting to listen. We need to work together to identify and implement solutions which reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and enable highly perishable products to be cleared efficiently and cost effectively for the benefit of UK consumers.
Read the full ministerial statement here.