Traders at London’s wholesale fruit and vegetables market, New Spitalfields, said yesterday food had been getting through from the continent but that many orders were running 24 hours late on the first day of the new Brexit trade agreement.
Lorries arrive through the night from Spain, Italy, France, Poland and Holland to supply the early morning retail and leisure trade.
Goods are generally ordered in the morning for overnight or next day delivery but traders said suppliers in countries like Holland were now demanding an extra day for deliveries, which had led to some shortages on Monday morning reports www.standard.co.uk
A trader at Evergreen fruit and veg said: “It is a bit messy to be honest. There are delays in incoming transport.”
Some said Dutch goods had been particularly hit as suppliers asked for an extra day’s notice to fulfill orders.
Others said overnight shipments had been running fairly smoothly with few holdups at the ports.
Andrew Thorogood, of fruit and salad importer Thorogood & Sons, said: “It’s been OK but it’s too early to say yet. Drivers say Calais was quite easy but it’s a very light week. We have to give suppliers a bit more notice but with Spain you have to give them one or two days anyway."
Christopher Hutchison of fruit and salad importer Kemsley & Co said the full impact of Brexit will not be felt until next week at least, when the routes get busier and stockpiles run down. He said Dutch traders had been charging a £150-per consignment levy.
“We just unloaded 13 pallets from one lorry, and in that case, it’s not so bad, but when you buy one pallet - that’s 150 boxes - you’re talking about £1 per box, and that is extremely expensive.”
Paul White, of Aberdeen & Stanton, a vegetable and herb wholesaler to restaurants and retailers, said his firm had planned ahead for the extra notice required but others in the market had not, so he had been selling large batches of carrots, cabbages and other veg to other wholesalers in the market this morning.
The general verdict was that exporters in Europe would find a way through whatever difficulties they find at the ports.
As White said: “Holland needs to sell to us, we’re too important to them to stop. Spain is in trouble with its tourist industry. I’m not being funny but if they don’t sell fresh fruit and veg what else have they got? Tiles?"