Commenting on last night’s news of an agreement to allow hauliers to continue to travel between the UK and France, the FDF’s chief executive Ian Wright said: “Last night’s news of an agreement to allow hauliers with a negative Covid test to enter France is very welcome progress.
“The first challenge now is to clear the backlog. Priority must be given to perishable loads like seafood and other fresh, short shelf-life foods. We now look to the army and local authorities to instigate a quick and efficient testing system in Kent that can allow trucks onto ferries and the Channel Tunnel.
“Even working extremely quickly and with Calais possibly shut for Christmas Day it is clear that it could take until the New Year to return to normal operations. Lorries will take time to return to their normal pattern of collection and delivery. That means we are likely to see, locally, reduced on-shelf availability of some fresh vegetables and fruits, beginning next week. We will also see potential significant disruption to the flow of ingredients into the U.K. Though all in the industry are already working hard to mitigate any impact for shoppers they are almost certain to be impacts across the supply chain.
“The second challenge is for the medium-term. We must ensure that continental lorry drivers are willing in future to bring their trucks to the UK to ensure that the ‘carousel’ of trade runs smoothly. They must be confident that they can exit the UK quickly and efficiently next time.
“Many businesses have lost very valuable – but uninsurable – consignments in these delays through no fault of their own. They will note that compensation is being offered to those who had to cancel domestic train journeys as a consequence of the Tier 4 announcements. Ministers have a moral duty to offer those who have lost product nothing less.”