In response to the letter from Michael Gove to trade bodies issued this morning, the British Poultry Council has warned that British poultry meat producers simply cannot afford to face border delays on day one.

With less than 100 days until Britain leaves the single market and customs union, the British poultry meat industry that is heavily reliant on ‘just-in-time’ trade with the EU is seriously concerned about urgent business critical issues that Government has failed to answer.

Responding to the Cabinet Office’s worst-case scenario document, British Poultry Council, Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said:

British poultry meat producers cannot be ready for the end of the transition period while Government is failing to answer fundamental questions on the detail of trade. We simply have not been told what the right paperwork is or some of the detail of what it should contain. To avoid any disruption at the borders we urgently need answers from Government on the scenario that we should be preparing for. Taking back control should not mean penalising British producers and undermine our national food security.

We are extremely concerned about the current lack of clarity with regards to the structure of our future trading arrangement with the EU – we must know if we are working towards a free trade agreement, or one based on WTO terms. Businesses cannot proceed while uncertainty about our direction of travel continues, and we foresee huge disruption at our borders particularly in the movement of food.

While we welcome the prioritisation of our high-value breeding stock such as day-old chicks, we remain seriously concerned about the lack of prioritisation of other highly perishable products including fresh poultry meat and hatching eggs. We want to work closely with the Government over the coming months ​to ensure poultry meat businesses have got all the answers they need to be fully prepared for the changes ahead​.”

Business critical issues that require urgent answers from the Government:

  • The imposition of veterinary and documentary checks and physical inspections on large volumes of fresh/chilled poultry meat must be kept to a minimum to facilitate trade and minimise compliance costs.
  • Urgent clarification is needed on the ID mark for Northern Ireland so that businesses can be ready to use the new mark on 1st January 2021 and buy packaging with long lead in times.
  • In addition to using up old stocks of packaging, businesses must also be able to place on the GB market goods held in cold storage at the end of the transition period carrying the UK/EC ID mark for a period 21 months.
  • Businesses in NI must have the similar 21-month transition period to use up existing packaging and also place on the market goods held in cold storage at the end of the transition period or they will be at a huge disadvantage.
  • Businesses need urgent clarity on the definition of ‘goods placed on the market’.
  • Exporters must be able to export products of animal origin held in cold storage and not dispatched bearing the UK/EC ID mark to non-EU countries for a period of time at the end of the transition period.  It is common practice for exporters to accumulate products for export so not being able to export these products would have a huge impact on businesses as there’s no market in the UK for them.
  • Businesses need urgent clarity on procedure for moving live poultry and products of animal origin between GB and NI.
  • The UK must have third country approval and plant listings for export to the EU in place by October.
  • The UK must communicate and agree changes on certification for certain non-EU countries and ID mark arrangements with all non-EU countries.
  • Export health certificates for exports of chilled meat preparations, minced meat and of poultry meat MSM must be made available to continue trade with the EU.
  • The UK must have access to sufficient veterinary resources for the increased certification requirements and checks on imports.
  • Businesses need clarity on the required certificates for import from the EU and the rest of the world.
  • A workable export facilitation scheme must be devised to allows groupage and mixed loads to be sent to the EU and NI. UK businesses must have advanced knowledge of the details to adapt accordingly.


Background information:

  • Poultry is over half the meat eaten in the UK. A billion birds are reared for meat every year.
  • UK is the fourth-largest producer of poultry meat in the EU and is about 60% self-sufficient. Britons prefer breast meat to dark cuts like wings, legs, and thighs.
  • British poultry meat industry is heavily reliant on trade. Its viability is incredibly dependent upon finding a market for 75% of the bird that is left over after removing the breasts.
  • Almost three quarters of our imports (£2bn/year) and exports (£500m/year) are with the EU – ensuring a continuation of trade with that market is essential. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, there will be increases in the costs of production which would be reflected in the price of fresh UK chicken. We estimate in the worst case no-deal scenario, the price of breast meat could rise by 25%.
  • Securing a continuation of the EU market is essential to putting food on every table and ensuring food security.
  • UK poultry breeders are the world’s most sought-after suppliers of high value breeding stock for poultry meat. If UK breeding companies are not allowed to carry on trading with the EU, businesses will be forced to move their breeding programmes to other countries.