Nigel Jenney is the Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium. On BBC Newsnight, he summed up some serious industry concerns regarding the effective import of EU fresh produce to the UK. It follows the government’s decision to enforce new post-Brexit processes, along with a new IT system that hasn’t yet come into effect.
Currently, the UK imports 65% of its fruit and veg supplies, with some 3 million tonnes coming from the EU. In addition, approximately 70% of our flowers come from or via the EU but, from 1 April, fresh produce and flower imports from the EU will be subjected to new SPS checks to ensure they meet new UK standards.
Each shipment will have to be inspected by EU officials to produce the necessary Phyto the UK Government demands. The details of each import must then be entered into a new Government IT system prior to UK arrival.
Fpcfreshtalkdaily.co.uk quoted Jenny as saying: "The IT still hasn’t been released for use by our sector with only days to go. We estimate over a million hard copy phyto’s per year will be required - yes paper copies! The government hasn’t developed electronic so called e-phyto’s and these are probably years away.”
“We are very, very concerned,” Jenney concluded. “ We simply want to offer great quality produce at great prices but this is likely to be compromised.”