Northern Ireland facing food supply disruption at its borders and may stop UK mainland businesses serving the market, says SCALA

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David Howorth, executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

“The latest news that trucks are being stopped at Northern Ireland ports due to a lack of customs-related paperwork, is resulting in disruptions to the countries food supply. The uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit over Christmas and the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic may have led to some businesses being caught out by these new customs regulations. Whilst it has been clear for some time as to how Northern Ireland would operate in terms of the UK and EU, the finer details of how these new customs checks would work only became entirely clear in the weeks leading up to January 1st so this confusion seems understandable.

“Beyond the initial disruption it may be that some businesses may have to reevaluate and redesign their entire logistics solutions when supplying the region.

“For freight with multiple product types and/or suppliers, it may be more complex and much more expensive to deliver products to Northern Ireland moving forward and, in some cases, may force UK mainland businesses to withdraw from servicing the market entirely. This could have a significant impact for the country’s supplies of FMCG products but equally could see openings in the market as companies potentially remove their service to Northern Ireland entirely.

“It is essential that businesses consider these changing regulations and treat Northern Ireland as a member of the EU when implementing their logistics strategy. Businesses can also make use of the government’s free of charge Trader Support Service to ensure they are up-to-date and that their drivers have the correct documentation to deliver to the region, without contributing to the severe delays we are currently witnessing.”