Unintended consequences strike again

The European Parliament backed the EU-UK Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was finalised last December last week, but this is just the continuation of a long process that has already had startling consequences for the British dairy industry, and the trade numbers bear this out.

As we had mentioned in the April 2021 edition of Dairy Industries International magazine, cheese makers were worried about the impact of Brexit on exports to the EU, and it turns out they were right to be concerned. The UK’s Food and Drink Federation posted a trade snapshot for February 2021, and it makes for grim reading for the cheese makers, as well as the exporters of cream and milk to the Continent. Cheese exports fell by 64.6 per cent to £14.5 million, while the milk and cream exports just dropped to mostly nothing – a 96.4 per cent fall to £0.9 million in February 2021, versus the same month the year before.

Small businesses such as artisan cheese makers have been the hardest hit, due to European zeal in enforcing the borders with vet controls, as well as the collapse of groupage distribution to the EU.

Seems nobody is interested in doing the paperwork that has multiplied overnight, or finding a veterinarian to approve the cheese that several months ago, went through to Europe without fuss. It is, as one cheese maker said, still the same cheese, but not to border controls. Plus, paperwork.

I am not sure what will occur in the future. I would hope that perhaps the UK’s government would revisit some of the details of the agreement, but as we’ve seen, this current government deals in swings and roundabouts, and what is true today, probably will not be true tomorrow. Northern Ireland is now in a state of flux and I am wondering what this was all for.

That all being said, British cheese makers are a resilient and resourceful bunch. They have to be, now that it’s a requirement of the job.

In other news, we have our Supplier Profile issue coming up again this year, in August. It is our issue filled with all manner of equipment and supplies for your business and a once-yearly opportunity for companies to get their messages out to the people that buy their products. Please contact Samantha Bull for more details, [email protected].

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