Cormac Healy, chief executive of Meat Industry Ireland, said the UK’s deferral of the post-Brexit import controls would buy businesses more time to prepare for the changes.
Delaying the pre-notification requirement for shipments from October to January but particularly the export health certificates to July 2022 would help food exporters when they were still dealing with supply chain issues from the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
“No matter what, with all the best intentions and work in preparation when such a system goes live there are always issues and teething problems,” he said.
“With all the challenges in the supply chain, this being added in October would have brought further pressures on everybody so a bit more time is welcome.”
Mr Healy said the additional time could provide an opportunity to develop an electronic health certification system for food and plant exports and potentially veterinary agreements and protocols between the EU and UK to avoid the new controls completely.
“That is a further step but this gives us a bit of time,” he said.
Co Cork-based fish exporters Hederman Smoked Salmon said that the deferral of controls was “slightly better news” just hours after saying on Twitter that it had possibly taken final orders for long-term customers in the UK because of the “impossibly costly” administration required for export health certificates from October 1st.
In response to the UK’s deferral, the Cobh-based company tweeted: “We’re sharing the cost of customs and Brexit charges imposed by DHL/Brexit but this should mean we don’t need to endure copies admin, continuous health inspections or customs delays.”
Caroline Workman, general manager at the company, said that its UK business “would have been completely gone” with the health certification requirement because the company would lose any flexibility to ship out orders quickly because each export requires a form with 30 unique fields to be completed and sign-off from a health inspector.
The company had already lost high-end UK clients such as retailers Fortnum and Mason and Selfridge’s and Rick Stein’s restaurants because Brexit charges and customs has doubled the cost of shipping produce to the UK since the start of the year.
Brexit has already affected food exports to Ireland. Central Statistics Office data showed food and drink exports to Britain fell by 35 per in the first two months of this year.
Britain remains the State’s largest food and drink market, accounting for 23 per cent total exports in January and February of this year, down from 33 per cent in 2018.