April 21, 2021

Plenty of hard work for UK food industry following Brexit

The UK faces plenty of hard work and tough choices as it embarks on life outside the EU and the country’s food policy is set to be a hot issue, GlobalData Food Editor Dean Best writes.

“Supporters of Brexit are counting down the hours to the moment the UK leaves the EU but there are so many unanswered questions for the country.

“23:00 GMT tonight will mark the UK’s departure and the start of a so-called ‘transition period’ lasting until the end of 2020, during which the country remains part of the EU single market and customs union – and will start trade talks with the bloc.

“The UK wants a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU by the end of this year, a tight deadline given other countries’ agreements with the bloc usually take years to finalise.

“In food, there are a number of areas where the UK and the EU, at present, disagree on how trade could take shape, including on fisheries and rules of origin. Despite the arrival of Brexit Day, uncertainty continues to reign for food manufacturers on both sides of the English Channel.

“During the transition period, the UK can also start trade talks with other nations. Here, too, food will be a subject of contention, with fears among some in the UK about greater imports of produce of lower quality and of lower cost.

“Countries such as the US and Australia are eyeing up the UK market and are set to place food at the centre of their demands when negotiations begin. Food will likely be an important bargaining chip in those negotiations, too.

“Any hangover from tonight’s Brexit Day celebrations could last a lot longer than Saturday morning.”