The first few days of post-Brexit trade with the EU appear to have had limited effect on the importation of fresh produce to the UK from the Continent. Traders at New Spitalfields market said that many orders where running 24 hours late, and some suppliers were asking for extra lead time on orders.
Andrew Thorogood, of Thorogood & Sons, told The Evening Standard, “It’s been OK but it’s too early to say yet. Drivers say Calais was quite easy but it’s a very light week. We have to give suppliers a bit more notice but with Spain you have to give them one or two days anyway.”
Christopher Hutchison of Kemsley & Co. added that some Dutch traders had added a £150 fee per consignment to cover extra costs. “We just unloaded 13 pallets from one lorry, and in that case, it’s not so bad, but when you buy one pallet – that’s 150 boxes – you’re talking about £1 per box, and that is extremely expensive.”
Dutch exporters are also reporting extra paperwork, with Freight Line Europe telling the Dutch press that it had already had 15% extra work on customs documents in the first few days of Brexit.
“Peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli – that’s all going to be ok,” said Vernon Mascarenhas, commercial director at UK-based Nature’s Choice food company. “But the finer, the more delicate, the salad heads. Anything above 48, 56 hours [journey time] we will then start to see a deterioration in the crop, and I’d go as far as to say that we might need to rethink things like baby spinach which has got a very, very short shelf life. Baby spinach would not make it, even on a chilled lorry for three days.”