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That’s according to trade bodies responding to questions from MPs in the latest meeting of the parliamentary committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), said the new era after the end of the Brexit transition period would entail a complete overhaul of the UK-EU supply chain. “What’s going to end up happening here is that unless the deal changes in some material way, we’re going to see the reengineering of almost all the EU-UK and GB-NI supply chains over the next six to nine months.”

That would lead to short-term ‘costs and time wasted for supply to reach the shelves’ and long-term costs and significant changes to the way EU and UK manufacturers interact when they are producing product. That said, that could create extra jobs in the part of the UK supply chain serving the domestic market, Wright added.

Increased delays

He referred to the increased delays sparked by the new paperwork that was needed for exports. “I’ll give you one example: one of our biggest companies, very well prepared, global, very well-known was trying to do a consignment of product out of the UK to the EU at the start of this week. The nature of the paperwork is that it’s very varied, there are many elements to the consignment and a job which normally took them three hours before the deal was done has taken them five days so far, such is the nature of the impenetrability of the paperwork.”

Cases where lorries were carrying multiple consignments of products – so-called ‘groupage’ – were causing particular headaches. While part of the EU, the UK only required one set of paperwork for the whole lorryload. Now, each consignment needed its own set.

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