Quadruple cheese Brexit whammy

“We managed to get a shipment through to Europe which took SIX days instead of ONE. Rejected because it’s no longer fresh. We’ve paid the carriage to send it out and we have to pay to ship it back. We have to bin the cheese. We have to refund the customer. We also LOSE the customer. It’s a quadruple whammy.
The whole Brexit deal screams of desperation. Johnson is a populist who does not care about the ramifications of what he does, he just wanted a deal – any deal- so he could stay popular. Business is the sacrificial lamb!”

West Country Voices spoke to Simon Spurrell of the Cheshire Cheese Company and Hartington Dairy today. He’s angry and frustrated… and with total justification. The background to the call follows in Simon’s own Facebook posts shared here. Then we share what he had to say about the Brexit deal, the way his local MPs ( he straddles two constituencies) and government are (not) handling the consequences and what this all means for the future of his important European business.

“Here is the true reality of the not so Free Trade Deal that is hitting my own UK Cheshire Cheese Company business. I have had to cease sending any parcels to the EU this week as they are all being returned, despite the correct paperwork being in place.

This so called free trade deal does not offer any kind of level playing field or any ability for us to compete with the EU. My shipping costs have increased from £15 to £25 as a direct consequence of Brexit surcharges.

I voted to remain, I accepted the referendum and as I publicly stated on BBC TV and BBC Radio only three weeks ago, I was positive and willing to make the best of the situation we have been forced into. Once again we have been purposely lied to about the consequences of Brexit and the terrible trade deal the so called government have made.

As a small business we cannot compete or swallow a 60% increase in our costs. The EU online business was our largest overseas segment by a ratio of 8:1 compared to the rest of the world. My options are the same as 1000s of other businesses and that is to find a way to trade from within the EU competitively. France is to us all the most attractive option. This of course will take away jobs and tax revenue from the UK and pass this directly to the EU that some so desperately wanted to leave.

***UPDATE 18th Jan 2021, this is pretty shocking: Having just spoken to David Rutley MP, [Macclesfield]I asked him if this is a reciprocal arrangement and do EU producers have the same restrictions as we have trying to export into the UK?

Wait for it…. It turns out that no such reciprocal agreement is in place and the EU producers are free to export into the UK without restrictions. This is beyond all belief, but he added to this and told me, ‘we the UK agreed to this arrangement to encourage the EU to allow us to deal with them and avoid a no deal’!

***Its official – the UK Government have failed British food producers!I posted earlier this month about Brexit and the difficulties my cheese producing businesses were having continuing to ship consumer parcels to the EU, with a 100% rejection despite the correct paperwork.Despite me talking too and emailing local MPs in Macclesfield, Matlock and the Minister for Agriculture Victoria Prentis, I have had no answers about the ongoing situation of sending parcels to the EU consumer market.

It has been left to DHL and DPD to explain the situation to me today. The simple answer is NO we can no longer sell or ship our UK produced cheese to the 446 million consumers in the EU.Below is the list of restrictions put in place for Cheese consumers and export wholesale, with the ‘Free Trade Deal’. Phytosanitary (Vet) certificates are £180 per consignment our average parcel value is £25. This is 15% of our annual turnover we lost overnight. My only option is to invest in France and distribute from there tariff free and with low cost distribution!

Austria– Meat, Cheese and foodstuffs containing animal ingredients, fish and fish products are prohibited.
Belgium– Anything that requires veterinary control is prohibited therefore you cannot send here.
Bulgaria– Can be shipped but additional Analysis and Quality Certificates required for customs.
Croatia– Any shipment containing animal products are prohibited therefore cannot be shipped.
Cyprus– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Czech Republic– Can be sent however this needs to be approved by customs before sending therefore it is best you speak with Customer Services in destination by calling 0042022030011. If approved Phytosantiary certificate required.
Denmark– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Estonia– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Finland– Meat, fish and milk based products prohibited therefore cannot be sent.
France– Any shipment containing animal products are prohibited therefore cannot be shipped.
Germany– Any shipment containing animal products are prohibited therefore cannot be shipped.
Greece– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Hungary– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Ireland, Republic of– Any shipment containing animal products are prohibited therefore cannot be shipped
Italy– Can be shipped however the receiver will need to contact their local Ministry of Health for approval prior to shipping. If approved, Phytosantiary certificate required.
Latvia– All imports of meat, fish, dairy and their products prohibited when arriving from non-EU countries.
Lithuania– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.
Luxembourg– Mostly prohibited however the receiver can check for approval with their local DHL on +352350909 or with their local customs. If approved, Phytosantiary certificate required.
Malta– All animal products are prohibited.
Netherlands– Can be sent however required authorisation from DHL Netherlands prior to shipping, the contact number is 0031880552804. If approved, Phytosantiary certificate required.
Poland– There are no restrictions on dairy product/food items to this country however Poland don’t have a sanitary/veterinary check therefore as every food item going from the UK does required Phytosantiary certificate for you to be able to send this, the receiver will need to appoint their own third party broker for clearance.
Portugal– Phytosantiary certificate required along with either a list of ingredients or a Certificate of Analysis for customs. However the receiver will need to check with their local DHL as this depends on the food item.
Romania-No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required from yourself plus Quality & Conformity Certificates. The receiver will also need to provide Import Licence from Agricultural & Food Ministry.
Slovakia– Will need to be approved by customs in Slovakia first, the contact number is +421248229229, if approved Phytosantiary certificate required and 24 hour delay in transit is expected.
Slovenia– No restrictions- Phytosantiary certificate required.Spain- All animal products are prohibited.
Sweden-Food made of any animal (incl. dairy- and milk products). are prohibited to import.

[Editor: Note that restrictions vary from country to country reflecting national sovereignty…]

When Simon spoke to his MP David Rutley it was clear that he didn’t even know about there being any restrictions on exports. Simon questioned him as to what the plan was to deal with the chaos and damage the deal was inflicting on business and received the staggering reply that the government would seek to address problems on a case by case basis during the transition period [in which we do not impose reciprocal arrangements because we are not set up to do so, yet. Unprepared!]

“What deal has ever been struck and signed by all the parties that allows you to go back and change for individual cases?” he fumes. “They are just lying to us. It’s all lies.

He also spoke to Sarah Dean MP, Matlock, again with no satisfactory outcome. Both promised to escalate the to the minister, Victoria ‘I was too busy with a nativity trail to read the deal’ Prentis. He has heard nothing back and, in a way, he almost expected as much

He knows, as all non Brexit-cultists know, that there is no way around these barriers to trade for a country outside the Single Market and the Customs Union. He is furious that many of the politicians now in government promised that we would stay in the Single Market and are still lying about the impact of the customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“But my belief ” he continues “is that Brexit is all about getting out from under EU tax avoidance rules so they can keep their money safe in all their tax havens. That’s what put Brexit on the agenda in the first place.”

The final savage irony is that, far from opening up a world of opportunity for his UK-based business – as he was promised by this Leave government – he is instead very likely to abandon plans for a £1 million fulfilment centre in Macclesfield and, instead, set up a facility in France, employing French citizens and paying French taxes. He may even be able to offer fulfilment services for other UK businesses caught in the chaos, the only Brexit dividend he’ll see.

“How bonkers is that?” he asks, in exasperation.

How bonkers indeed.