Disruption potential for UK food supply chain post-Brexit


The UK’s food supply chain is facing “huge disruption” post-Brexit unless clear plans are made to guarantee frictionless trade, an industry conference has heard.

Chris Sturman, chief executive of the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF), told the Food and Drink Business UK conference in Coventry that any delay to the 14,000 trucks crossing the Channel every day could could result in disruption to the UK’s food supply chain.

Currently, 28% of the UK’s food supply comes from the EU, with the UK exporting a total of £230 billion worth of goods and services to the EU while importing £319 billion, he said.

Mr Sturman, in an interview to the BBC said: “Europe has complex supply chains and at the moment there is no clear plan from Government, and shippers will need time to adjust to a new reality.

“For every hour of delay at customs there is a £15,000 cost to road haulage and that is not sustainable.

“We also need to note that most trucks in the UK’s supply chain come from Europe, not the other way around, so if they can’t get into Britain they can go elsewhere.”

He added: “We need to be assured that customs and non-tariff barriers are removed to facilitate movement of goods as well as a rationalisation of Government border controls to avoid delays and costs.”

Mr Sturman also highlighted the potential worker and skill shortage in the industry if EU workers are not protected.

“There are approximately 350,000 EU workers supporting the UK’s supply chain that has a current labour shortage of about 50,000 workers. What happens if those EU workers are told to leave?

“There are difficult political realities to face up to as part of Brexit but the hard realities are we need to trade and we need to eat. If these problems are not solved, consumers face a dire situation.”