Brexit delays and price rises on British food in France

New import processes on British food after January 1 are causing problems for certain food outlets in France

11 February 2021
By Connexion journalist

A seller of British food in the south of France is reporting problems with imports since full Brexit on January 1.

M&S Food outlets in Paris were also left with empty shelves due to being unprepared for new import processes.

Sophie Stevens, assistant manager at Geoffreys of London, which has been selling British food in Antibes on the Riviera for more than 30 years and also does wholesale, said there had been problems with supplies of meat and dairy products due to the need for veterinary or phytosanitary certificates.

“We have to wait to have all these certificates done before you can export fresh and frozen foods from the UK. It’s adding more delay to bring things out.

“With dry products, it’s not so much of a problem. They need commodity codes to be checked at customs, but once that’s clear, there should be no problems.

“It works by category of product. For example, if bringing in different cheeses, they will all come under the same code.

“Cheese is the main problem. “We have an order in the pipeline that’s been stuck.

“Some suppliers now want to stay mainly working with the UK and not exporting because they don’t really know the terms and conditions.”

Even if there are no import taxes, exporters will have to pay someone to do customs papers, adding extra cost, she said.

“It will make lead times longer and many suppliers will probably raise prices.”

The shop and business are managing because they stocked up in anticipation, but she added: “A lot of British customers have left France because they didn’t want to do the paperwork to stay.”

However, “we still have quite a big British community,” she said.

M&S also told The Connexion that fresh food was the most affected in its range.

A spokesman said: “As we are transitioning to the new process, it is taking longer than anticipated for some of our products to reach stores, but we are working with our partners, suppliers and relevant government agencies and local authorities to quickly improve this.”

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