Jacob Thundil, founder and director of Cocofina, started planning for the UK/ EU transition way back in early 2020. This, he says has helped him to adapt to keep his business moving and be ready for new opportunities. He is now encouraging other organic food businesses, if they haven’t done so already, to access the support available.
His business produces organic coconut-based products, which he sells to 28 countries, making exporting and importing a critical part of his business. Jacob explains: “About 45% of my sales come from exports, so I had to take action early to mitigate any risk to the business. I also had to be flexible to hold on to the long-term relationships I have established with my customers and suppliers in Europe.”
Jacob employs four people and has a shop and office in Ickenham, Middlesex and a warehouse in Kent. The business also co-manufactures at facilities in Wales and Rochdale.
Jacob understands many businesses are still coming to terms with the new rules and acknowledges that each company will be different. He explains: “Using online research I wrote a long ‘to do’ list and we used GOV.UK to understand the process for imports and exports to the EU. Many of our products are manufactured in the UK and are therefore classified as having preferential origin. Under the terms of the deal this means they will not be taxed. For example, we even ferment our coconut vinegar in the UK.
“We also got the right information about labelling changes for exporting organic food, and to understand the impact this process will have on our trademarks and patents.”
Jacob believes that some businesses may not even realise they are in scope, and advises that it’s worth double checking with the checker tool on GOV.UK to find out. He says: “Some processes are surprisingly easy; others require much more reading. The important thing is to get started now, if you haven’t already.”
He adds: “Our products are long-life perishable, so it is more straightforward for our business and the few delays we are experiencing now can be mitigated. However, I do anticipate any supply chain disruption will ease by March 2021, costs will come down and many businesses will be in a better position from then onwards.
“Fortunately, in the UK my customers shops are not shut, and I am continuing to supply. I have also increased the UK sales with more e-commerce.”
Jacob says that he is optimistic about future opportunities, in particular in the Middle East, where he has been in discussion with a supplier in Qatar. He believes that the free trade agreement with the EU is good news for businesses who produce in the UK, who can continue to sell their goods to customers in the EU tariff-free.
Jacob adds: “Looking ahead I believe many businesses will begin to operate in a more innovative and effective way and take full advantage of the opportunities available with partners around the world.”
The best place for businesses to get support is GOV.UK/transition.
- Speak with fellow entrepreneurs, your lawyer and accountant for more information, or answer questions using the checker tool on GOV.UK to generate information tailored to your business, and to sign up for email updates.
- New on-demand videos to help businesses adapt to the new rules. Searchable by sector, businesses can find out more about 18 topics that may affect them.
- For any further queries please contact the business support helpline, 0800 998 1098. Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. Find Business Support Scotland: 0300 303 0660 Business Wales Helpline: 0300 060 3000 Invest Northern Ireland helpline: 0800 181 4422.