British retailers: no frictionless borders Brexit deal, no food

The potential impact of Brexit on the procurement of perishable foods and the associated supply…...

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The potential impact of Brexit on the procurement of perishable foods and the associated supply relationship management issues has taken centre stage this week. With approaching negotiation deadlines, UK retailers called on governmental negotiators to ensure a deal that will safeguard the “fragile” supply chains and the free flow of goods between Britain and the EU.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has written to the prime minister, Theresa May, and the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier. The letter warns that if there is no such agreement, new border controls and regulatory checks could result in significant delays to the movement of inherently precarious goods, leading to “food rotting at ports.”

The BRC also warned in the letter that 12,500 small enterprises would be placed in jeopardy and face collapse if the deal isn’t reached by negotiators.

The letter is in accordance with a manifesto signed by food suppliers earlier this year which argued for frictionless trade and innovative regulation to avoid disrupting supply chains.

At present, food products are routinely transported between EU states and the UK. An example cited by the BRC was salad greens, which can leave their country of origin (Spain) on a Monday and arrive on British supermarket shelves by Thursday, with five days of shelf-live remaining.

The letter states: “These well-established, just in time, supply chains are vital for … protecting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and food producers in the EU.”

The BRC describes the 29 March 2019 deadline for full withdrawal from the EU as a “cliff edge” for European suppliers and British food retailers, unless free and frictionless movement of goods is ensured. Failure to broker this deal will almost inevitably mean border controls and regulatory checks between Britain and its European partners.

In such a scenario, delays and even failed deliveries will become commonplace, with perfectly edible food left to perish in containers – a nightmare scenario for procurement’s supply relationship management efforts and consumers.

Ed Cross

Ed founded Odesma in 2014 with the explicit intent of creating a new kind of procurement consultancy founded entirely on cloud principles. Deploying best-of-breed subject matter experts alongside the best on demand technology to deliver rapid and effective change for customers.

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