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Protecting Great Britain’s food security as import processes change

The UK relies on imports to provide a reliable and consistent supply of food for its citizens year-round, with 46% of all food consumed here sourced from other countries.

The existing import regime is set to change significantly once the government finalises and implements its Border Target Operating Model (TOM). This will detail new processes for importing goods – including fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, and meat products – into GB from countries inside and outside the EU post-Brexit.   

“British consumers and businesses rely on imported food, so it’s vital that changes to trading processes under the TOM are designed to support smooth trade flows and minimise disruption,” says Nichola Mallon, Head of Trade and Devolved Policy at Logistics UK.   

“The TOM in its current draft does not provide this reassurance,” continues Mallon, “with its lack of detail on how the proposed regime would work in practice, pressured timescales and deadlines, and lack of information on how the TOM would interact effectively with the Windsor Framework – the agreement between the government and EU to ensure Northern Ireland has full access to both UK and EU markets.  

“We also need to see reassurance that EU and Rest of the World countries will be ready themselves to implement the changes effectively.”   


The government plans to introduce changes in three phases, with the first due to come into force in October 2023. This will see the introduction of health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU – including from Ireland.   

“The logistics industry is ready and willing to adopt new trading processes so it can continue delivering for the nation, but it needs urgent clarification on a number of key areas so businesses can plan, prepare and proceed with the changes successfully,” says Mallon.  

The government has failed to set out a workable model for trade across the Short Straits – a key UK- EU trading route for fresh food produce. “As the UK’s arterial supply chain for imported food, it is essential that the government acts now to ensure the smooth and efficient functioning of the Short Straits.   

“There’s also an urgent need for detail on how groupage movements, with mixed loads of varied risk categories from consolidation hubs and multiple pick-up locations, will operate under the new model,” adds Mallon.   

“Logistics UK supports the government’s intention to create the most effective border in the world, and will continue to press upon government the need to work with industry to ensure the final TOM delivers a detailed, effective, fair and practical solution to a GB-EU import regime; it must engage with industry in a meaningful way to protect GB’s food security,” concludes Mallon.   


Published On: 10/08/2023 16:00:00


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