EUROPE – The UK Government’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) introduces health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU, as of January 31.

This entails the requirement of veterinary health checks on every shipment of meat, fruits, and vegetables entering the UK.

The controls, which were delayed multiple times, have raised concerns about added bureaucracy affecting supply chains and increasing costs.

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) acknowledges potential challenges, emphasizing the duplication of labels, increased stockholding, and elevated risks of waste.

While the government treats the period until April 30 as “educational,” with random checks, there are fears of disruptions in the future.

The Cold Chain Federation expresses worries about EU businesses being deterred from shipping to the UK due to additional costs, potentially leading to a drop in food imports.

Various food products, including meat, eggs, fish, and dairy, now require export health certificates and other paperwork.

The UK government estimates that these checks, including physical inspections starting in April, will cost British businesses around £330 million annually and could increase food inflation by about 0.2 percentage points over three years.

Some industry experts warn of a more significant impact on inflation.

This marks the first time EU food producers face post-Brexit border bureaucracy, as the UK left the EU’s internal market and customs union in January 2021.

UK food producers exporting to the EU have faced full border controls for three years, while the UK delayed checks on EU imports several times to avoid disrupting supplies.

The government asserts that these controls enhance border safety, prevent disease and pests, and position the UK’s border as the “most advanced in the world.”

However, industry groups caution that the new measures could lead to price hikes and supply disruptions when physical border checks are implemented in April.

Concerns include growing divergence in food safety rules, a shortage of EU vets for export health certificates, and the possibility of smaller EU suppliers ceasing exports due to increased bureaucracy.

The impact on the cost of living, already challenged by rising food prices, remains a concern.

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