Things are tough for fresh produce traders in the UK at the moment not only have they have to contend with two lockdowns already this year, the lifting of some restrictions is regional and very uncertain as new restrictions could be imposed at any time. Then the long-awaited Brexit is only a couple of weeks away with no deal agreed.
“The market is very subdued with next to no hospitality open,” said one importer. “It is a very tricky business at the moment, produce is difficult to get a hold of because of the change in demand in Europe due to various lockdown restrictions there and more demand from the supermarkets. Prices seem to be increasing.”
Wholesale traders are also fearful of a third full lockdown which may spell the end for some of them who have just been able to hang on and get by until now. Normally at this time they would just be coming out the busy period of supplying restaurants for the Christmas party season, but that trade has been non-existent this year.
Many traders and importers are frustrated that Brexit has been on the cards for over fours years but there is nothing in place and no guidelines by which they can prepare for trade after 1st January. They feel that the day-to-day trade which puts food on our tables has been largely ignored by the politicians.
Most importers is as ready as they possibly can be but without definite guidelines it remains uncertain.
“We don’t even know if it will be feasible to bring produce in, these are perishable goods and can’t sit in lorry parks for days waiting for customs clearance. We also have to look at it from our suppliers’ point of view – will they even want to send goods here if it going to be so difficult and risky? It is a very frustrating time,” commented the importer.
Trade with Northern Ireland has been in the news a lot this week, but the situation with goods going there from mainland UK is that they will be looked upon as coming from abroad and will need a Declaration of Export and phytosanitary certs which takes DEFRA days to produce which will not work for fresh produce.