Food shortages are anticipated in the new year as post-Brexit border controls on animal and plant products from the European Union come into force from January 1. 

Frozen food ailse

New rules from January 1 state that importers must make a full customs declaration when goods are entering the UK.

Previously, importers were permitted 175 days to complete the relevant forms, a measure that was introduced in the wake of Brexit to ease disruption. 

The British Frozen Food Federation said that the introduction of the new border controls created the possibility of major delays at ports from the beginning of the year. 

BFFF chief executive Richard Harrow said: “Whilst the new UK rules will be introduced in stages, we are concerned that not enough planning has been done to ensure the new requirements are understood by everyone in the food supply chain.”

He stated a new HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) process called Goods Vehicle Movement System could lead to disruption: “The system is designed to enable HMRC to keep a track of loads containing meat and plant products in fast-moving roll-on-roll-off ports such as Dover.

“The system requires haulage companies to pre-lodge the arrival of a load to the UK before it departs from the EU port of embarkation.”

Harrow added: “Whilst many UK hauliers are well prepared for this change, we suspect many EU hauliers are not.”

He concluded: “Whilst the UK authorities have said they will not stop vehicles that do not complete all the documents correctly, this assumes the EU port will allow a vehicle without the correct paperwork to leave port.”

The prospect of fresh supply chain disruption comes amid challenges for the grocery sector, with many struggling to recruit lorry drivers, while fears of staff shortages loom due to the ongoing Omicron outbreak.