IGD - Economics bulletin 18 May

Date : 18 May 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Queen’s speech – changes for food businesses

Last week the Queen’s speech set out the government’s priorities for the months ahead. It outlined a number bills that have the potential to impact UK food and consumer goods businesses. These include:

  • Health – Ban on advertising for specified high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods, Calorie labelling, restricting promotions of HFSS foods
  • Environment
  • Animal welfare
  • Training and education

Further details on these bills are included in this article.

Northern Ireland – update on EU-UK negotiations and next steps

Following discussions between the UK government and the EU concerning the movement of goods into Northern Ireland, Lord Frost, The UK’s chief negotiator, has raised concerns about the Norther Ireland Protocol stating, “It is hard to see that the way the protocol is currently operating can be sustainable for long.”

This comes at a time when Edwin Poots, who is opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, has been elected as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

This follows a legal challenge from the European Commission after temporarily extending the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland from 1 April to 1 October (see key dates section for more details).

It has been reported that the UK government is proposing new checks on food products going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland being introduced in four stages:

  • Phase 1 – fresh meat products (October 2021)
  • Phase 2 – dairy products, plants and wine (End of January 2022)
  • Phases 3 and 4 – fruit and vegetable marketing standards, pet food, organics and composite products (dates to be confirmed)

Further discussions are expected.

Northern Ireland forum on Thursday

The first meeting of a new joint Defra – DAERA forum is due take place on 20 May at 9 a.m.

The forum will bring together different parts of the agri-food chain into a single hub of engagement. It will focus on operational details of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Businesses from across the agri-food chain can register to take part here.

Successful groupage trials

Successful trials have taken place to test a pallet-level sealant approach for the movement of mixed consignments of goods exported from Great Britain to Europe (groupage). New guidance is expected to be published shortly.

There are also plans for developing more logistics hubs to manage the import of products of animal origin and plant material.

Re-opening of hospitality

As part of the easing of restrictions, indoor hospitality re-opened yesterday in England and Wales. The Welsh government announced further funding for businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

In Scotland, pubs and restaurants are now able to serve alcohol indoors until 10.30 p.m. in all areas apart from Glasgow and Moray where COVID-19 cases remain high.

In Northern Ireland, indoor hospitality is set to re-open on 24 May subject to a ratification decision on 20 May.

Social distancing review and worker testing funding

The government will continue to provide free rapid lateral flow tests until 30 June 2021 for employees participating in either workplace or home testing. There is currently no indication as to whether the funding of these tests will continue after 30 June.

The government is reviewing requirements for worker testing following step 4 of the roadmap which comes into effect no earlier than 21 June, with the decision on funding of workplace testing likely to be linked to the outcome of the social distancing review.

SME input into UN Food Systems Summit

As part of the preparations for the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September, the government is encouraging small and medium-sized businesses to register to take part in a regional dialogue on 10 June.

This forms part of a national dialogue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to gain their views on transforming the food system. The output from this national dialogue will feed into a pre-summit meeting in Italy in July.

UN Food Systems Summit competition ‘Best Small Business: Good Food for All’ 

SMEs that are ‘transforming food systems for a better tomorrow’ are also encouraged to enter into the “Best Small Business: Good Food for All” competition. The competition is open to any small to medium-sized enterprises with 5-250 employees doing all or most of its activities in the food system, in any country.

Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses

Businesses trading with the EU should be prepared for the introduction of further border controls on the following dates:

  • 30 June – The grace period for sending certain Prohibited & Restricted goods (P&Rs) from GB to NI ends.
  • 21 August – New model of EHCs is required for POAO exported to the EU, following the end of the transitionary arrangements allowing the use of current EHCs
  • 1 October – POAO and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK.
  • 1 October – End of the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. The start of a phased introduction of the Export Health Certificates for POAO exported to Northern Ireland from GB.
  • 1 January 2022 - Safety and Security Declarations for imports required. Physical checks required at Border Control Posts (BCPs) for POAO and certain animal by-products, and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin. Physical SPS checks of high risk plants also to take place at BCPs. Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks required for low risk plants and plant products.

Complete customs declarations for imports to the UK will be required. Importers may no longer defer making declarations. Tariffs will become payable at the moment of import.

  • 1 March 2022 – Physical checks at BCPs for live animals and low risk plants and plant products.

The UK government has issued guidance specifically for food and drink businesses.

Register here for upcoming webinars on trading with the EU.

IGD has also provided additional support to help businesses with EU Exit. Businesses may also wish to refer to the EU EXIT Foodhub, an FAQ website for food and drink businesses

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