Many UK food and drink exporters are unaware they could be crippled by a shortage of suitable pallets and crates under a no-deal Brexit. Séamus Nevin, chief economist at manufacturers’ group Make UK, said that the “overwhelming majority” of wooden pallets currently in use would fall foul of new checks likely to be imposed on British goods.
Price hikes or even shortages could occur as firms rush to buy the right packaging, while trucks carrying food, drink and other common products in unsuitable packaging could be turned away by EU officials.
All wooden packaging carrying goods from outside the EU must be heat-treated or fumigated and certified before they can enter Europe, under global trade rules designed to stop the spread of plant pests.
The stricter rules are not applied to trade between EU member states. Many UK pallets and crates are therefore not ready for the new rules if Britain leaves without a deal that keeps’ current arrangements intact.
The UK government could also be expected to impose the same checks on packaging carrying EU food and drink into Britain, but may choose not to do so to prevent huge disruption to supply chains.