Food firms warned to plan for post-Brexit supply challenges

Brexit casts an uncertain shadow over everything (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Brexit casts an uncertain shadow over everything (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A new Bord Bia report confirms that Brexit is the single biggest challenge facing the food and drink industry, and within that, the supply chain is one of the highest risks.

The Food and Drink Supply Chain Logistics, Strategies for Success report released by Bord Bia today finds that increased lead times, especially when related to short shelf life products, in conjunction with a complex and intense supply chain, is a key issue for the industry.

Currently food and drink products can move freely within the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Turkey without customs checks. However, according to the report, it is very likely these factors will change for trade between Ireland and the UK post Brexit, and Irish food and drink companies must take steps to limit the impact of these changes on their supply chain.

Uncertainty remains around the UK's status as trading partner in the future and the report outlines several possible scenarios for the food and drink industry post Brexit.

These include the possibility that there will be additional customs processes and checks adding time at borders, which in turn impacts costs and driver driving time limits.

The report suggests options for supply chain redesign, including registering for and achieving Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status. AEO certification is an international initiative to ensure that supply chains are secure and controlled from point of origin through to the final delivery destination.

Bord Bia oversees trade manager Shane Hamill said that it is essential that companies assess the Brexit readiness of their supply chain partners, their market access routes and their channels for accessing raw materials

"There are significant challenges ahead for Irish companies in the food and drink sector, many of whom rely heavily on the UK landbridge to access other EU markets.

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"It is imperative that all companies have a strategy for reducing their cost base, reviewing product and market profitability, and also have contingency plans in place for a range of complex Brexit scenarios," he said.

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