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M&S boss warns Spanish chorizo and French cheese supplies could run out due to post-Brexit red tape

M&S boss warns Spanish chorizo and French cheese supplies could run out due to ‘pointless’ post-Brexit red tape on food coming from the EU

  • Marks & Spencer chairman warned Brits could face chorizo & cheese shortages
  • Said ‘pointless’ post-Brexit red tape on food transported from UK into the EU is causing delays at the borders, extra costs and unnecessary waste 
  • Warned imports from Britain will be hit by similar chaos from October  


The chairman of Marks & Spencer today warns that Britons could face shortages of Spanish chorizo and French cheese as the result of a ‘fandango of bureaucracy’ at the borders.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, Archie Norman says ‘pointless’ post-Brexit red tape on food transported from the UK into the EU is causing huge delays at the borders, extra costs and unnecessary waste.

And he warns imports into Britain will be hit by similar chaos from October when the strict new rules are suddenly mirrored for food imported from the EU to the UK.

Mr Norman writes: ‘In a mutual act of self-destruction, we risk lumbering French cheese producers and Spanish chorizo manufacturers with the same costs as we have faced trying to export food to the EU.’

The chairman of Marks & Spencer today warns that Britons could face shortages of Spanish chorizo and French cheese as the result of a ‘fandango of bureaucracy’ at the borders (file image)

M&S has more than 1,500 stores and serves over 100 international markets. Mr Norman reveals that M&S trucks now travel to EU ports with 700 pages of documentation – the equivalent to three paperback books. 

He says border checks now mean fresh food is arriving a full day later and have increased the amount of driver hours by 30 per cent.

‘Of course, all this is pointless,’ he writes. ‘UK food standards are the same as they were before Brexit.’

The bureaucratic nightmare is exacerbating the lorry-driver shortage. A perfect storm of Covid, Brexit and longstanding issues recruiting drivers has been blamed for food shortages at the likes of McDonald’s, Nando’s and The Co-op.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday rejected calls from firms to loosen immigration rules for lorry drivers and urged companies to prioritise training UK-based workers.

But now fears are growing that the situation could dramatically worsen in October when EU exporters are forced to battle new red tape, which experts say will lead to more delays, shortages in supermarkets and restaurants – and possible price hikes.

Mr Norman writes: ¿In a mutual act of self-destruction, we risk lumbering French cheese producers and Spanish chorizo manufacturers with the same costs as we have faced trying to export food to the EU.¿ Picture: Stock

Mr Norman writes: ‘In a mutual act of self-destruction, we risk lumbering French cheese producers and Spanish chorizo manufacturers with the same costs as we have faced trying to export food to the EU.’ Picture: Stock

From October 1, EU food exporters will need to get authorised vets to inspect shipments of meat, fish and dairy products, produce certificates and file declarations. Meanwhile, UK importers will need to declare the goods with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs. Further physical checks on all goods will follow next January.

Mr Norman, a former Tory MP, said the UK and Europe should agree a period of ‘equivalence’ – where the UK and EU accept each other’s food rules and standards, even if they are not identical – and move from the slow, paper-based customs controls currently in use to a fully digital system.

Business chiefs backed Mr Norman’s call. Dominic Coyte, co-founder of the Borough Cheese Company, which imports high-end French cheeses, said: ‘The Government has left us high and dry. It seems like the rules are being made up on the hoof. I thought the paperwork would gradually get simpler but it seems to be getting more complex.’

A fifth of companies have ditched their EU supplier in favour of one based outside the bloc, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply industry body. A further seven per cent intended to replace their EU supplier in the future.

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