The price of fruit and vegetables in the UK is predicted to rise when new post-Brexit import controls are introduced in the spring.
As part of the post-Brexit deal struck by then prime minister Boris Johnson, the government is due to introduce new paperwork requirements for EU suppliers sending animal and plant products to the UK, with physical inspections being required from April.
Border checks have been postponed five times since the deal came into force in January 2021, due to concerns they would push up prices and fuel inflation, according to ITV.
Exporters in the EU will have to complete Phytosanitary Certificates (effectively health certificates) for their produce, which will then be signed off by a health official upon entering the UK.
The certificates must then be lodged by the importer on DEFFRA’s ‘Import of Products Animals, Food and Feed System’ to notify the enforcement authorities in the UK.
Once the paperwork has been completed, the trucks transporting the produce may then be selected for inspection by Border Control.
Imports will also face a ‘Common User Charge’ fee, levied per certificate and estimated to be anywhere between £20 to £43, although the government has yet to confirm the precise details of the fees or how they will be applied.
The Fresh Produce Consortium has predicted the annual costs of the extra paperwork and delays could hit £200m.
Nigel Jenney, chief executive at Fresh Produce Consortium, told ITV that the new fees, combined with the fact that the majority of produce is imported into the UK in mixed loads that are more likely to be delayed by physical searches at the border, will lead to “import hikes” on “many of the UK’s favourite fruits”.
“The system is not fit for purpose,” Jenney said. ”I doubt there are enough officials in the EU to generate the volume of Phytosanitary Certificates that are going to be required.”