“We Have Become the Laughingstock of Europe": Jenney Blasts UK Border Strategy Nigel Jenney,

“We Have Become the Laughingstock of Europe": Jenney Blasts UK Border Strategy Nigel Jenney,

25 Apr 2024

Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) has condemned the UK government's post-Brexit border solution.

“The Government has single handily created the world’s most inefficient and expensive border,” stated Jenney. “This once in a lifetime opportunity has been squandered and we now await Government enforced consequences for both businesses and consumers”.

“The UK government has ignored our extensive advice on how to streamline border processes," Jenney continued. "Instead, they’ve created a strategy that is both incompetent and hugely expensive. This will drive up costs for our sector, which will ultimately be passed on to consumers already struggling with the rising cost of living."

Key points highlighted by Jenney include:

  • Obscene Charges: Exorbitant Government costs including “common user charges" of up to £14,500 per 100 consignments. Around £1450 for each vehicle (mixed load) This will add millions of pounds in annual costs to the supply chain. Small companies will incur fees of £50k + In addition for major importers £1m +.

  • Delays and Disruption: Only a couple of weeks ago industry was informed that official inspection staff will not be available at Control Points beyond 7pm. 95% of all the goods in our sector arrive beyond the hours that UK government officials wish to work. So, in reality, it's about what's convenient to them. It's not about what's effective for the industry and cost-effective for hard pressed consumers.

  • Last-Minute Chaos: The government's lack of clarity and constant changes have created confusion and undermined industry confidence. Just weeks before implementation, details like common user charges were announced. Based on the consultation we expected fees of 20-40 per consignment. The recent announcement confirmed £145 a 500% increase.

  • Lack of Consultation: The government implemented these fundamental charges whilst simply ignoring our alternative highly efficient and bio-secure solutions. potentially crippling small businesses and undermining the UK's food security.

  • Food Security: A key Government responsibility is to feed and flower the nation with affordable produce, yet their solutions knowingly add £200 million of avoidable costs to the sector and ultimately hard-pressed consumers.

  • Taking our Supply for Granted: It’s clear the Government has no understanding or interest in UK’s diverse horticultural sector or its international partners. They simply take for granted the Nation’s food and flower supply.

  • No Export Incentive: The UK imports 65 % of our Fresh Produce and 80% of our flowers. Therefore, a cost-effective border strategy is essential to encourage growers to export to the UK whilst offering UK growers a competitive opportunity to export.

“We've offered workable solutions for years, but the government has procrastinated and shown total incompetence," continued Jenney.

"To avoid this self-made crisis, we recently proposed a handful of inspectors at key points to support the EU trade; a solution perfectly suited to our just-in-time, perishable goods industry. Yet, this was rejected outright."

The Fresh Produce Consortium urges the government to make official inspections available at appropriate hours and ensure a border strategy that guarantees food security at a reasonable cost for both industry and consumers.

“We have become the laughingstock of Europe," concluded Jenney.