PML tackling the Carbon Emissions target

PML Article in Focus Feature July 2021

This month #PML‘s Mike Parr is a guest contributor to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s magazine to talk about tackling the carbon emissions target.

Perishable Movements Ltd (PML), the global perishable cargo specialist, is taking a proactive approach to reducing the company’s carbon emissions. For a business that is focused on the transfer of temperature sensitive cargo by air, road and sea, this is a sizeable challenge and one which requires a matched input from those responsible for addressing the emissions associated with these modes of transport.

For its part, PML has researched the opportunity to switch to electric trucks, as well as reviewing the potential to move to more sustainable fuel types. To date, despite investing considerable time to seek out suitable alternatives, the options remain very limited and are currently not commercially viable.

As of 1 st April of this year, the entire fleet of PML trucks (which amounts to 9 artics) are Euro VI compliant, which represents a positive step towards controlling carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions.

The Sales Director has taken delivery of an electric company car and as and when company car renewals arise, PML will look at a shift toward electric or at least hybrid vehicles. This is despite the hefty price tag associated with such purchases, an investment that is worthwhile given the clear benefits to the environment.

Our 64,000 square foot warehouse regularly receives and packs consignments of food and as such, generates a substantial amount of cardboard and polythene-based packaging. The business now recycles all of its cardboard and polythene to minimise the contribution to landfill and maximise the potential to reuse these materials.

As a logistics business, we have a significant number of employees who are charged with providing administrative support. The back office to PML’s operations is essential to its success and while it may not be able to fully address the emissions targets via our transport teams, the office is making great strides in adopting new environmentally friendly practices.

At our Heathrow headquarters, we have taken the decision to change 80% of our lighting to being motion-sensor driven, resulting in a reduction in electricity consumption which in turn, will negatively impact on the business’s carbon emissions footprint.

Looking ahead, PML is about to take on a new facility outside of the Heathrow area and we are proud to confirm that these premises will be featuring solar panels which will also help to reduce electricity usage and therefore will contribute to a drop in carbon emissions.

PML is focused on looking at further ways in which to operate as an environmentally responsible business and will continue to adopt new practices which will enable it to deliver against the sustainability agenda. However, this is surely an area where the industry needs to unite to instigate real change?

We would advocate that an industry-wide initiative is launched which specifically targets the need to tackle carbon emissions, which enables us to work with those involved in providing the vehicles which we are so reliant on. Manufacturers of trucks need to feel reassured that there is a genuine appetite for change and more needs to be done to ensure that there are financial incentives for investing in eco-friendly modes of transport which will go towards offsetting the initial inflated upfront payment.

There needs to be clearer thinking about we work together to improve emissions. We’ve already seen a clear example of how the push towards demonstrating clear commitment to environmental concerns can sometimes be at the expense of failing to recognise a detrimental effect on a whole industry sector. The Mayor of London’s decision to extend the Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) to make it tougher for heavier vehicles to drive within the Greater London area – including Heathrow – has effectively rendered Heathrow’s mission to become an equal to Paris CDG and Amsterdam (in terms of airfreight) impossible. The excessive charges associated with the LEZ combined with the eye-watering penalty fees has resulted in a number of European hauliers refusing to come to Heathrow. So, while the Mayor’s emissions target will benefit, this is at an unacceptably high price for the industry. For PML, this latest attempt to deal with emissions has made it untenable to extend our operations in Heathrow. Dealing with emissions we wholeheartedly agree with. But this needs to be implemented with clear proof of joined up thinking which can only be achieved if the industry is invited to collaborate with those making the decisions.

10 things you need to know about shipping fresh produce.

Shipping fresh produce is a fast-paced industry because of the effort required to make deliveries within a short timeframe. Perishables are time and temperature sensitive products that require careful handling and shipment processes to preserve their freshness.

This supply chain journeys from farmers to packaging and shipping companies, then to wholesalers or retailers, and finally to the end consumer. The supply chain can be surprisingly long if you don’t buy local, and the goods still need to be fresh, despite the lengthy shipping process.

Here’s PML’s top 10 tips for companies to consider when shipping fresh produce. 

  1. Safety of produce in transit. 

Although the concept of transporting produce looks simple on the face of it, there are many complications. Billions of pounds are lost due to food spoiling during the transportation process. Up to 33% of food can be lost or wasted and fresh produce can lose half of its shelf life in the shipping process.

Produce is sensitive freight due to individual shelf life timelines and the fragility of the items. When dealing with produce and other food items intended for consumption, there is no wiggle room when it comes to safety. Vehicles transporting food are required to adhere to strict standards, the goal being to prevent illness due to contaminated food. Vehicles must be clean and be able to be cleaned to prevent contamination plus produce must be kept at safe temperatures during transportation. 

2. The importance of produce temperature

Timing and temperature are the crucial factors when handling fresh produce because it deteriorates with time, depending on the temperature of storage.

Most refrigerated, chilled and fresh produce is stored and transported at temperatures between -1.5 and +14 degrees Celsius, varying on product type. However, transport can be trickier for perishables such as flowers, fruit and vegetables and some countries may not accept frozen goods that have been off refrigeration for more than a specified time, regardless of temperatures achieved. That can result in wasted time, effort and ultimately, the loss of the produce. In all these cases, failure to meet requirements means a total commercial failure unless the goods can be diverted to a different destination where they will be accepted.

3. Produce Shelf Life

Not all produce is the same when it comes to shipping. The industry deems sensitive produce, with a short shelf life of a day or two, as light density. Next, produce that lasts 4 to 6 days is medium density. The heartier produce crops, those with a long shelf life in excess of a week, rank in the high-density category.

The logistics company selected to transport produce needs to know from the shipper exactly what the freight includes to ensure correct handling and timings. 

Shippers are working against the clock to get produce to market so consumers can enjoy the goods at the peak of their freshness. The strict shelf life of produce is why shippers often prefer a dedicated trucking solution to ensure delivery. The longer it takes to get produce shipped after harvest, the higher the chances items will spoil before reaching the shelf.

4. Lifestyle trends

As shoppers select produce at their retailer, few are thinking about the industry and what it takes to ship fresh. 

Consumers adopting healthier lifestyles often choose fresh produce. The trend at the moment is that freshness translates to healthy and the niche market of organic and plant-based foods is growing fast.T he push to find healthier food has translated into more produce shipments needing to be available to stay in step with the increasing demand. 

5. Where the Produce Comes From

What fruit or vegetable crop is growing when and where is always a big question for those dealing with produce. The answer to that question determines what can ship when or how much stock is available. Shippers generally have a good handle on what crops are harvesting in which countries in order to keep supply moving into stores.

But for shippers, the bigger question to answer is how fast a crop of fresh produce can get from the field to market. There is often a very short window of time to make it happen. 

Seasonal demands factor into shipment capacity, especially if a crop schedule is off by a few days or weeks. In most cases, a dedicated shipper will have flexibility to get everything done in time. However, this is not a guarantee, so shippers should not take it for granted. Good communication between the shipper and trucking company is a good way to gauge what is possible when things change.

Another challenge in shipping fresh produce is the distance from the point of origin to the final destination. According to the Logistics Bureau, fresh produce averages about half its shelf life on a truck. Therefore, produce with a short shelf life only has around a day of freshness remaining once it reaches the market. If all things are perfect, this is not a lot of time for consumers to maximise the freshness. However, it drives the point home about the urgency needed when it comes to shipping fresh produce.

6. The Demand for Fresh Produce

So where do consumers purchase fresh produce? The answer to that question includes grocery stores, fresh markets, specialty markets and the growing trend of meal kit services. Shoppers are particular about where they purchase their fresh fruits and vegetables. While supermarkets take the top spot for produce sales, specialty retailers who emphasis organic goods are quickly gaining popularity.

It is a matter of preference when it comes to shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. While some consumers want to touch and feel the produce they select, others rely on fresh selections arriving on their doorstep.

Regardless of the venue, fresh produce arrives at each site on a regular basis to keep up with the growing demand. 

Traditional grocery stores typically display seasonal and locally grown produce prominently with additional bins stocked full of other produce staples. Likewise, the fresh produce sections at specialty markets are alive with the vibrant colours of the seasonal harvest. However, the two retailers may vary the quantity of produce on hand based on traffic. Shipping fresh produce to a large grocery store may involve several trucks making a delivery often within a week. In contrast, a smaller marketplace may schedule one delivery per week with limited amounts of certain items. In each case, the shipper is working closely with the stores to determine what produce is needed and how soon a truck can arrive to replenish the shelves.

The increase of meal kit delivery has also stretched the demand to ship fresh produce. The kits are popular with those who lack the time or desire to do the shopping but want to have a tasty meal. The kits include all the ingredients, right down to the fresh peppers, tomatoes or other items. Once picked, fresh produce needs to move quickly.

7. Multimodal transport

When transporting perishables, you have distinct choices between air, sea and road freight. Choice is often a matter of speed, cost and more importantly, the type of perishables you handle.

With fresh fish, the main logistics issues are in ensuring the expected journey times are consistent with product life and reducing time off from refrigeration. Problems are most likely to occur at export terminals and transit points, both for air and sea freight. For road transport, you need to factor in traffic congestion and customs delays.

Struggling with import and export issues? Get in touch with our team of experts for bespoke logistics advice:

Vegetables and fresh fruits pose many of the same problems as seafood and flowers. Refrigerated containers and prepackaging using ice and sometimes cold gas can extend shelf life, but the reality with many perishables is that presentation is also important to the end consumer. Excessive vibrations and gases can adversely affect these products in transit.

Proper planning and operating systems overcome these difficulties to some extent, but there is always a degree of uncertainty and producers should build in some margin for delays to the planning process. Think of the cold chain as a journey to be achieved, not just a destination.

8. Restaurant or Comsumer

Wholesale produce shippers fulfill daily orders for restaurants as well as general consumers.

Today, health-conscious diners are requesting more produce options on restaurant menus. The days of the kitchen just receiving a few boxes of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce or cucumbers for salads are gone. In order to guarantee the kitchen has enough produce available, chefs and restaurant owners are working to develop networks of locally sourced produce. 

9. Packaging and storing 

Next, transporters must select the best packaging for shipment. Fruits like apples, citrus, and pears that have hard skins are good for long travel because they are sturdy enough to handle it. Softer fruits like plums and peaches, on the other hand, have to be carefully packaged and handled carefully. When selecting packaging, transporters must also consider factors like how to protect produce from temperature changes.

Once the produce has been selected and packaged, it is ready to be loaded and shipped. Transporters must be conscious of what they are shipping; for example some fruits cannot be transported together. All fruits release a harmless gas called ethylene after being harvested, and each fruit releases the gas in different quantities. This gas causes certain fruits like tomatoes and peppers to ripen and spoil faster, so they must be kept separate from fruits that release the gas in large quantities.

Transporters must also consider where the cargo is going. Most countries restrict the transport of products across borders to prevent the spread of bacteria and plants that could damage their local ecosystems and thus have different rules and regulations for deliveries

10. Impact damages

Another common reason food is wasted before reaching the consumer is impact damages. Consumers do not want to purchase bruised or damaged produce, so if it gets damaged in the shipping process, it will never make it to the store.

Shocks and vibrations that occur during shipping can seriously damage the produce, and this is a big risk if the items are not packaged and loaded properly. In fact, if a transporter is over-burdened with produce to ship, they may load an excessive amount of pallets in one vehicle to cut costs, often resulting in damaged goods.

While the logistics of fresh produce are challenging and complex, monitoring each step of the process can ensure that the produce makes it to the end consumer safely and intact. Technology like data logging, and the cold chain process, make this possible and allow us to have the fruits and vegetables we enjoy on a daily basis.

The Cost of Brexit on Fine Wine shipping

Despite the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the transportation of wine to and from mainland Europe and the UK was pretty much a straightforward process in 2020. It required a minimum level of regulatory checks and procedures; haulage firms benefited from the EMCS system, an EU customs database that simplified the shipping process for them.

However, come 1st January 2021 and the changes to the UK/EU trade regulations, this straightforward process has been turned on its head. Philip Cox, owner of Romanian winery Cramele Recas, describes the new regulations as “nightmarish” and “potentially unworkable” for small wineries and UK businesses.

“It is fair to say that the new logistics framework has been a challenge for the industry. Even before Brexit, transporting wine was admin heavy. We required roughly 200 pages of documents to move an average shipment between the UK and EU,” explains Ashley Hopkins, Liv-ex director of operations. Adding “Since 1st January 2021 that admin has multiplied. The original 200 pages are still required, but now a similar sized export will require additional documents such as import declarations etc, resulting in around 800 pages.” 

“It’s not just the paperwork that’s the problem. In order to produce these documents you need certain wine expertise, and you also need to include additional parties such as freight forwarders, all of which adds time and costs to the supply chain.” adds Hopkins.

European wine producers, importers and exporters and major transport firms are all attempting to get their head around this new process. The transportation of goods to and from the UK has become much more time consuming, expensive and difficult. A good example of this is from 1st  January 2021, producers have been forced to ship goods in fumigated and treated stamped wooden pallets, which before 1st January 2021 wasn’t a legal requirement. 

In addition, logistics firms must now use ‘Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) Numbers’. EORI numbers are issued by customs to identify traders throughout the EU and are now an essential legal requirement for UK import and exports. Also, under new VAT rules, the tax is now paid in full at the port of entry to the UK before the goods are released. This is a potential issue for smaller businesses.

“The new post-Brexit trading framework has impacted iDealwine in areas that they didn’t see coming. The additional paperwork was expected, but negotiating new rates and new shipping partners were not,” says Alix Rodarie, head of international development at iDealwine.

“New laws and even seeking advice from legal experts was expected, but legal experts unable to clarify or interpret a number of issues relating to importing wine to the UK was not. Customs declarations and duties payable were expected, but the complexity and number of charges for delivering were not.” Rodarie explains that the firm has been forced to build new logistical and legal relationships again from scratch, and then communicate these changes to their existing clients.

“As I’ve said before, it is now easier for me to sell to Japan than the UK,” adds Philip Cox. “Apart from the expense and time wasting inherent to carrying out a full customs declaration, I now have to include an importer’s label on every bottle, detailing their address, etc. I exported 4 million bottles to the UK in 2019 across 12 different brands. So I would have to produce 12 different versions of the label for each wine. Unfortunately, I’ve ceased exporting to my smaller customers. The new administration costs mean that shipping small volumes is not worth my while. The real victim has been the British consumer.”

With supply chain overheads increasing, producers and importers alike must now weigh up how much of this strain can be willingly shared between the key parties, or if UK consumers should be forced to shoulder the burden of the rising prices.

Some experts are optimistic that the end consumer will not suffer unduly. But equally, there is an opinion across the board that smaller brands may now find exporting prohibitively expensive, leading to fewer niche labels on our shelves.

“Our shipping charges have been altered. We used to be charged per case, which meant that we could ship tiny parcels from some growers. We are now charged per pallet and have a sliding economy of scale – this puts our smallest suppliers at a real disadvantage,” says Siobhán Astbury, buying director at Haynes Hanson & Clark.

“There are certainly some wines that have had to go up by a few pounds per case, but for the moment nothing extreme. We’re getting a slightly better exchange rate now than we were at the end of last year, which also helps cancel things out. But it’s still very early days.”

As with Covid-19, uncertainty surrounds the transition into new trading relationships. At the moment, UK customs are overlooking certain checks on goods to ease companies through the transition period. However, when this gentle approach finishes, its forecast that companies should expect long and costly delays at UK customs and excise. 

Both European and UK businesses are also arguing against the introduction of wine import certificates. This new piece of legislation was written into the Brexit deal to replace the VI-1 forms, which the EU currently use to regulate the import of non-European wines.

“As an industry we are used to VI-1 forms for wines originating outside of Europe and this will remain business as usual (albeit a UK version). One of the sections on the new import certificate form requires a customs stamp, which is likely to add an additional 200 pages and 200 stamps – it’s all getting a bit daft,” says Ashley Hopkins, Liv-ex director of operations. In late March, the government delayed the introduction of the wine import certificates until 1st January 2022. Nevertheless, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale, who has been heavily involved in lobbying the government to remove the regulation from UK law has stated that the threat of an eventual implementation of the forms is still “very real.” It remains to be seen whether they will listen to the argument against this extra step or not.

European ports preparing for the after effects of Suez crisis

In the weeks to come supply chains are preparing for the knock on effects of the Suez Canal blockage with expectations of congestion, delays and increased costs. 

The Institute of Export and International Trade has raised concerns over import surges that are expected to hit European ports following the removal of the Ever Given ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal.

The wedged ship Ever Given was finally freed on 29th March, leaving a trail of around 100 container ships waiting to enter the canal. Although some of those cargo ships would have been empty or headed to other destinations, roughly 52% of the canal capacity each week heads to Europe according to the Institute of Export and International Trade. 

Eleanor Hadland, senior ports analyst at maritime research consultancy Drewry has stated “From our perspective, it is going to be more chaos and more congestion.” The situation is badly affecting the US west coast where a lack of capacity means ships have to anchor for up to two weeks before unloading and In Europe, carriers are being given the option of diverting course to smaller, less busy terminals, Hadland said. 

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations have said that the disruption of the supply chain was expected to “worsen dramatically” over the next coming weeks. They have also stated that this would create “high delays in shipments, increased costs and product shortages.”

Freight and logistics publication Loadstar has reported that currently air freight is currently operating at full capacity, predicting that it will take approximately two weeks for the impact of the crisis to begin to “unravel”. 

“Capacity is already an issue with greater use of air for test kits and vaccines”, said Ekaterina Andreeva, commercial director for Russian air cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr. “We can predict a busy market for a couple of months, but maybe it will lessen over the summer. Rates though could be elevated until the end of the year,” she said.

As the world looks to the cost of the Ever Given blockage, John Neal the CEO of Lloyd’s of London told the Evening Standard that potential losses to the market from the blockage of the Suez Canal would be in the “hundreds of millions” but said that the claims were easier to deal with than they are having to with Covid, which up to this point has cost Lloyd’s £6.2 billion in payouts. 

“It is the very type of loss we are used to,” John Neal said. “It will be quite a big marine claim, but not particularly out of the ordinary.” 

Open letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Dear Sadiq Khan,

As the Lord Mayor of London and head of the executive of the Greater
London Authority, you’ve taken the decision to extend the Low Emissions
Zone (LEZ) emissions standards from 1st March 2021 to making it tougher
for heavier vehicles to drive within the Greater London area. This includes
Heathrow as per your guidance on www.tfl.govuk: ‘All roads within
Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are
included.’ The charges are payable 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The charges range from £100 to £300 per day with penalty charges at
£500 or £250 if paid within 14 days.

As a company which is involved in the transfer of perishable – mainly
essential food – cargo both into and out of the UK this move is crippling
our business. We have daily consignments of food departing from
Heathrow and coming in from Heathrow which we handle on behalf of our
customers to ensure a seamless onward journey. We also receive daily
consignments of European produce to our packhouse, which is then
packed and loaded, ready for distribution to the UK’s major food retailers.
While our own fleet of trucks is Euro VI compliant, many of the European
hauliers that we work with to deliver food are not and are now refusing to
come to Heathrow because of the unacceptably high charges.

During the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to maintain our
operations despite the challenging conditions, so that the supply chain to
the UK’s supermarkets and key retailers could remain intact. We’ve also
been responsible for the safe transfer of essential PPE. Our employees are
classed as Essential Workers because of the important role they play in
keeping supermarkets stocked with vital food supplies.
Having survived the difficult trading conditions associated with the
pandemic we were then faced with the incredibly stressful fallout of
Britain’s departure from the EU. To say there has been a distinct lack of
clarity from senior decision makers is an understatement. The handling of
Brexit and its impact on our industry has been shambolic. We’ve had to
employ teams of people to try and keep up to speed with the constant
changes, which were still being modified as late as the first week of
January. Despite this, we’ve managed to adapt our operations yet again
and have successfully helped our clients understand the new protocols to
ensure perishable food supplies successfully reach their intended
destination on time.
Two major blows to the industry which could potentially have destroyed
an established British business. But we survived.

A business that employs around 100 members of staff. A business that
has invested heavily in helping the post-Brexit UK transport infrastructure
by creating an approved Border Control Post and ERT (bonded
warehouse) facility away from the ports at Spalding to enable the
continued speedy movement of produce. A business that is expanding and
generating new jobs. A business that supported UK manufacturing to the
tune of £500,000 by investing in a new fleet of state-of-the-art trucks. A
business that is closely aligned with Britain’s plans to ensure Heathrow
can compete with other major European airports.

And how are we repaid?

At a time when you are trying to assert Heathrow as an equal to Paris
CDG and Amsterdam in terms of airfreight the introduction of this tax has
effectively made this mission impossible. And with it you have also made
our plans to extend our operations in Heathrow untenable. This will lead
to people losing their jobs as we will be forced to relocate; the business
will have to spend thousand of pounds in re-training new staff and those
staff that are able to move to a new location will ironically be adding to
the cost of fuel emissions by generating more traffic on the roads as they
are forced to make longer journeys to work.

So much for supporting Britain’s essential workforce.



The world of logistics can represent a male dominated work environment, but for Perishable Movements Ltd (PML) – the global perishable cargo specialists – just under half (48%) of the staff are women.

Financial Director, Rui Pan (left) and Imrana Giannotto (right), PML HR Manager

Imrana Giannotto is the HR Manager at PML and explains the significant role that women continue to play in the company.

“At PML, women have the same access to a clear career path and opportunities for development as men. Therefore, it’s no coincidence that our Financial Director – Rui Pan – is female and that women hold down senior roles in a number of PML’s divisions, especially accounts, imports, warehouse and the packhouse. The nature of our business means that we need to run our operations 24/7 which requires us to run shifts. This type of working pattern is often appealing to women who are faced with
juggling childcare commitments whilst holding down a job.”

Because of this style of working, the pandemic has had limited impact on the female workforce, “Our women had already taken on shifts that fitted around their partner’s work so effectively, they already had their childcare sorted to fit around family life. When the pandemic hit and schools closed, many mums across the country were forced to stay at home to look after their children, but for the majority of our wonderful women, this was not an issue.”

“As a critical service – PML’s business involves moving essential supplies of food – as such, our staff are recognised as key workers, so all employees are entitled to continued access to schools and nurseries.”

As Head of HR, Imrana places great emphasis on ensuring women are treated equally when they choose to have children. “We have had a lot of maternity cases, especially in our warehouse teams. One lady gave birth to twins, came back to work and is due to have another set of twins! The fact that this employee intends to return twice is testament to our commitment to working mums. We understand how challenging this can be and we’ve worked hard to offer flexible working hours to accommodate their needs. We make sure that any pregnant members of staff are well cared for and given plenty of breaks to help them during what is obviously a physically and emotionally demanding period of their life.”

Not that women rely solely on the watchful support of the HR team to hold their own at PML. Imrana continues, “These are incredibly strong, hard-working, single-minded ladies who are the backbone to our business. They are used to multi-tasking; they get on with the task in hand without whingeing and when new challenges arise – they simply take them in their stride.”

For a logistics business which moves specialist temperature cargo around the world, Brexit and the associated additional paperwork and new protocols has certainly not been easy. But to working mum Angelika who has enjoyed numerous promotions since joining the packhouse team and who now plays a pivotal role in the imports department, it was simply another opportunity to shine.

Imrana comments, “Angelika is a perfect example of how our women are focused on results. Their drive and determination ensure they seize any challenge with both hands and always go the extra mile to deliver the desired results.”

Imrana has no doubt that women will continue to thrive at PML. “Our ladies are a force to be reckoned with and rightly so. Women at PML don’t wish to be treated any differently to men, just equally. They don’t allow anything to hold them back and continue to demonstrate their immense value to our operations.”

Brexit delays at UK border ‘getting worse’

CIPS survey finds nearly two-thirds of supply chain managers reporting delays of up to three days, longer than in January.

Delays at the UK-EU border are getting worse, new research indicates, as Brexit paperwork continues to snarl up supply chains.

A survey of 350 UK supply chain managers by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) found over half (58 per cent) saying that delays have become longer since the beginning of January 2021, with 30 per cent reporting that delays are significantly longer than they were when the new border rules first came into effect.  

As many as 63 per cent of those surveyed have experienced delays of at least two to three days in getting goods into the UK, up from 38 per cent in a similar survey in January. The situation is only slightly better for exports, with 44 per cent experiencing delays of at least two to three days getting goods into the EU.

By far the main reason for the holdups is the time it takes for customs to work through the new paperwork, with nearly half of businesses (47 per cent) citing this as the chief cause. Other customs issues such as a lack of capacity among customs staff and drivers being turned away for having the wrong paperwork were also cited by respondents.

Only nine per cent of people said new Covid-19 protocols were causing holdups at the border.

The delays come despite the fact many new import certifications are still yet to come into force. The extra checks, which will impact a wide range of goods, are due to be phased in from April.

Dr John Glen, CIPS economist and visiting fellow at the Cranfield School of Management, said: “We are well into the second month of the new arrangements and the hope that delays at the border would reduce as freight volumes returned to normal and customs systems became used to the new processes has not come to pass.

“What is even more concerning is that the delays are continuing to get longer, putting more and more pressure on the UK’s supply chains and affecting the timely delivery of much-needed goods. 

“The paperwork required at the border is not going to change any time soon, so we should brace ourselves for these delays to continue for at least the next few months. New requirements for import certifications are also rapidly approaching and these will only add to the paperwork required, causing further delays for businesses.

“The knock-on impact of these delays will trickle far down the supply chain and ultimately result in stock shortages and inflated prices for consumers”.

Guidance on health and identification marks that apply from 1 January 2021

Guidance on the health and identification marks that must be applied to products of animal origin (POAO), such as meat, egg products, fish, cheese and milk.

The following guidance is for enforcement authorities and UK food businesses that produce POAO in the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland). It outlines the health and identification mark requirements that will allow POAO produced by UK businesses to be placed on Great Britain, Northern Ireland, EU and non-EU markets from 1 January 2021.

What are health and identification marks? 

The health mark is applied directly to POAO, typically meat carcases, by the Competent Authority (CA) or under its supervision, and shows the product is fit for human consumption. 

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the CA. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has similar responsibility in Scotland. 

The identification mark is applied to POAO by food businesses to show it has been produced in an establishment approved in accordance with food safety and hygiene regulations, and is typically applied to wrapping, packaging, or labelling which contains, or is attached to, the POAO.

Further down this page you can find: 

  • A description of the new health and identification marks, depending on whether the food business is based in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘United Kingdom’ where it is practical
  • Information setting out the requirements for different markets

Products placed on the market before the end of the Transition Period (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020) 

‘Placing on the market’, as defined in Article 3(8) of Regulation (EC) 178/2002, means the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale, distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

If your UK business placed POAO on a market before the end of the Transition Period, it will be allowed to reach its end user in the specific market upon which it was placed with the existing health and identification marks.

POAO that were placed on the market in Great Britain before the end of the Transition Period can reach their end-user on the Great Britain market, including circulation within Great Britain, without the need for re-labelling.

POAO that were placed on the market in the EU before the end of Transition Period can reach the end-user on the EU market without the need for re-labelling.

POAO that were placed on the market in Northern Ireland before the end of Transition Period, can reach the end-user on either the UK or EU markets without the need for re-labelling.

POAO moved into the EU and Northern Ireland markets from Great Britain after the end of the Transition Period will require re-labelling to meet the requirements.

POAO that have been placed on the market in UK before the end of Transition Period can reach the end-user on non-EU markets without the need for re-labelling.

Rewrapping or repacking of POAO

Any rewrapping or repacking of POAO must be carried out by an establishment, approved to carry out the required activity. If carried out by an establishment separate to the original manufacturer, the appropriate identification mark must be applied with the establishment’s approval number. This is to maintain traceability and ensure food safety is not compromised.

Where product destined for the EU or NI market has left the manufacturing food business and is in a cold store or other storage facilities in Great Britain which is not approved for rewrapping or repackaging, it is important that the product is moved to an establishment which is approved to carry out any rewrapping or repacking activities specifically for that POAO, or returned to the manufacturing food business. 

Where over-labelling is appropriate, the food business will need to be satisfied that any over-labelling is secure and does not obscure any other mandatory labelling information. Failure to meet these requirements may result in rejection by enforcement authorities in the country of destination.

Information on the use of existing stock with the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark 

On the Great Britain market

Legislation in England, Wales and Scotland provides for a 21-month period of adjustment for goods placed on the market in Great Britain to reduce the impact of the change in requirements for identification marks.

This will allow UK businesses to deplete existing stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark owned by the food business operator at the end of the Transition Period.

The provision is available to UK food businesses for POAO placed on the market in Great Britain. It is not applicable to POAO produced in the UK for placing on the EU, Northern Ireland or non-EU markets. 

It is not intended to enable businesses to replenish stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark after the end of the Transition Period. Businesses are encouraged to adopt the new markings as soon as possible once the Transition Period ends.

The provision started from 1 January 2021 and is available for food businesses up to 30 September 2022. After this date, the use of stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging with the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark will be unlawful.  

On the Northern Ireland market

Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, goods sold in Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules for food labelling. There are changes to labelling that apply from 1 January 2021.

However, the UK Government recognises that businesses will need time to adapt to these new labelling rules.

The UK Government is working with the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and district councils in Northern Ireland on an enforcement approach of new labelling requirements on the Northern Ireland market that takes these challenges into account.

In line with previous rule changes for labelling, there will be a proportionate and risk-based enforcement approach for identification marks. This approach will be implemented in a way which supports businesses as they adapt to the requirements over time.

More information regarding general food labelling requirements (Opens in a new window)can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Moving products of animal origin from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

The agreement reached in the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol set out that there will be a:

  • Three-month grace period for authorised traders moving products of animal origin, composite products, food and feed of non-animal origin and plant and plant products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland;
  • Six-month arrangement has been put in place to enable the continued movement of certain meat products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.  

There are conditions attached to both these arrangements which are set out in the Defra guidance on the authorised traders scheme and meat products subject to restrictions and prohibitions (Opens in a new window).

The FSA consider that because full traceability is being maintained, there is no risk to public health as a result of POAO bearing the UK/EC identification marks. Therefore, our advice to relevant enforcement authorities is that the same proportionate and risk-based enforcement approach for identification marks should be implemented in a way which supports businesses as they adapt to the requirements over time. This is also in line with the DAERA Compliance Protocol published for SPS controls.

DAERA Compliance Protocol

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have published:

The compliance protocol sets out that commodities not within scope of the two grace periods (i.e. the authorised trader scheme and arrangements concerning prohibitions and restrictions for some meat products) will be expected to comply with EU rules from 1 January 2021 when moving POAO from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Further UK Government guidance on moving animal products from Great Britain into Northern Ireland (Opens in a new window)can be found on GOV.UK website.

UK (both Great Britain and Northern Ireland) products on the market at 11:01pm GMT on 31 December 2020 and destined for non-EU countries

The Defra Chief Veterinary Officer has written to the Competent Authorities of non-EU countries to explain changes to health and identification marks. 

The annex to the Chief Veterinary Officer letter (issued December 2020) is reproduced below for information only

A: UK exports of food products of animal origin (POAO) to non-EU Countries: UK identification and health marks 

Following the Transition Period (ending 31 December 2020), the form of the health and identification marks applied to products of animal origin (POAO) produced in the UK will change.

1. Existing health and identification marks

The health and identification marks for POAO for export from the UK to non-EU countries are currently in this format: 

Health and identification marks applied before the 31 December 2020

Health and identification marks applied before the 31 December 2020

2. Future health and identification marks

Health and identification marks applied after the Transition Period will be presented in the following formats:

Health marks applied after the 31 December 2020

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

Identification marks applied after the 31 December 2020

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom AA123', 'GB AA123', 'UK AA123'
Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) AA123 EC', 'UK(NI) AA123 EC'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'
Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

3. Key changes

For POAO produced in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales):

  • the ‘EC’ suffix will be removed from health and identification marks 
  • the marks will carry the full country name ‘United Kingdom’ or an abbreviated code ‘GB’ or ‘UK’.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland:

  • the health and identification marks will continue to display the ‘EC ‘suffix 
  • the marks will carry the full country name ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’ or an abbreviated code, ‘UK(NI)’

In all cases, the approval number of the establishment, which provides the traceability required, will remain unchanged.

4. Exemption for eggs for human consumption and hatching eggs

Eggs in shell for human consumption and hatching eggs produced in the UK do not need to carry the UK identification/health mark outlined above and will continue to be marked in the same way as they are now. However, in some cases, such exported eggs may carry an additional ISO code (GB, GBR or 826) either instead of, or in addition to, the current marking. This may be because such eggs have been batch marked before the exact export destination is decided. Similarly, hatching eggs may also carry the word ‘hatching’.  

In all cases, eggs in shell for human consumption and hatching eggs produced in the UK will guarantee the same high standards and quality following the Transition Period.

5. Period of transition for goods on the market

You may continue to receive products carrying the ‘UK/EC’ health and identification marks (see point 1 above) for a significant period of time. These marks continue to be valid marks, and relate to products produced in the UK before the end of the Transition Period. As the supply chain depletes itself of old stocks which bear these health and identification marks, you will see a gradual change to the new health and identification marks (see point 2 above).  

All consignments and products certified using any form of the health and identification mark in the United Kingdom, with or without the ‘EC’ suffix, continues to be a guarantee of our continuing high standards and quality delivering official controls.   

Examples of the health and identification marks that apply from 1 January 2021

FSA approved businesses in Great Britain

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM 1234', 'GB 1234', 'UK 1234'

FSA approved businesses in Northern Ireland

Examples of health and identification oval marks: 'UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND) 1234 EC', 'UK(NI) 1234 EC’

Local authority approved businesses in Great Britain

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom AA123', 'GB AA123', 'UK AA123'

District Councils in Northern Ireland

Example of identification oval mark: 'United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) AA123 EC', 'UK(NI) AA123 EC'

Size and dimension of the marks that apply from 1 January 2021

Health mark

The health mark must be a legible and indelible oval mark at least 6.5cm wide by 4.5cm high. It must contain either the full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ in capitals or the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation for POAO produced in England, Scotland and Wales, followed by the approval number of the establishment. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ where it is practical.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland the health mark must contain either the full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM (NORTHERN IRELAND)’ in capitals or ‘UK(NI)’ abbreviation, followed by the approval number of the establishment. It must also contain the letters ‘EC’ below the approval number.

Letters must be at least 0.8cm high and figures at least 1 cm high. The ink used for the health mark must be authorised in accordance with food law which governs the use of colouring substances in food.

The dimensions and characters of the health mark may be reduced for health marking of lamb, kids, and piglets.

Identification mark

There is no minimum or maximum size for the identification mark. However, it must be legible and indelible oval mark, and the characters easily decipherable.

The identification mark must contain either the full country name ‘United Kingdom’ or the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation for POAO produced in England, Scotland and Wales. The UK Government recommends use of the full country code ‘United Kingdom’ where it is practical.

For POAO produced in Northern Ireland, the new identification mark must contain either the full country name ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’ or the ‘UK(NI)’ abbreviation followed by the approval number of the establishment. It must also contain the letters ‘EC’ after the approval number.

Get in touch for more expert guidance and advice relating to post-Brexit imports and exports.

5 things the food sector needs to know about Brexit

Although it’s happened Brexit is still very much an ongoing headache for the perishables and food industry. The real reverberations from the UK’s exit from Europe are only just starting to be realised.

It’s been a long and fraught journey to Brexit, with most of the population hoping that they would never have to hear another Brexit debate or argument after the 31st December. However, those hopes are dashed because although the laborious and painstaking EU negotiations are more or less concluded, the real work, dealing with the effects of leaving Europe, is only just starting.

The food sector can’t just ‘action’ Brexit, it’s a delicate balance to ensure that supply chains remain unaffected and relationships with European suppliers are kept on good terms. For speciality products such as regional cheese and niche products, dealings with Europe need to be more than amicable, they need to be highly functioning and as strong as the stinkiest cheese.

Having put our Perishable Movements Limited thinking caps on, we’ve come up with 5 key points that the food and drink sector should remember when dealing with Brexit issues.

1. Getting goods into the UK from Europe
The dawning of Brexit meant that the old rule book for importing goods was thrown out of the window. Post December 31st businesses must have an EORI number starting with a GB to import goods into England, Wales and Scotland. If you’re importing into Northern Ireland, make sure you have an EORI number that begins with XI.

It’s also time to fill out those customs declarations. To find out the rate of duty your business will need to pay and whether you’ll need an import licence you will need to check the commodity code. Next on your import checklist will be to ensure you’re compliant with the marking, labelling and marketing standards.

You can follow the official UK government’s guidelines for importing goods into the UK from Europe here.

How to bring goods into the UK from any country, including how much tax and duty you’ll need to pay and whether you need to get a licence or certificate.

2. Getting goods out of the UK to Europe
The new trade deal set out no quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, if goods meet the relevant rules of origin . Check this link and if relevant, you’ll need an EORI number prefixed with either GB or XI plus a commodity code.

Be aware that there is an added admin burden on companies at the moment and this is causing delays in exports. This is because products deriving from animals such as meat, fish and dairy must have vet-approved export health certificates. Manufactured foods that contain animal products are currently exempt, however this will change in April. Unfortunately, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty about what this will mean for the perishable goods and food business.

Click here for the government’s official guide to exporting from the UK.

3. Moving goods into Northern Ireland

One of the key issues thrashed out during the Brexit trade deal was that there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The agreed trade deal sets out a regulatory border between Britain and Northern Ireland, because Northern Ireland continues to follow some EU rules.

Again added supply chain delays can occur at this point because food products are being checked when moving from the mainland UK to Northern Ireland. Following staff safety concerns and tensions with the new rules, these protocols were suspended on 2nd February. Supermarkets have been given a three-month period of grace which leaves questions hanging over the future of the protocol. As soon as we know more, we’ll update our clients.

For more information about getting goods into Northern Ireland click here.

4. New rules of origin

Some more red tape reveals itself in regard to revised rules of origin. If your business is exporting or importing food or drink to Europe, you’ll need to prove to HMRC that you can claim preference for goods. you are importing or give the person receiving the goods evidence of the origin so they can claim preference.

There’s lots of confusion about this specific part of Brexit trade agreement. You’ve got to make sure your business is following the rules correctly and have the correct proofs in place. Although a free trade agreement is in place with the EU, this doesn’t mean that goods coming into the UK have no import duties or tariffs.

If you need help, feel free to reach out to the PML team. We’re happy to share our experience and knowledge of Brexit compliance:

5. Don’t forget your IDs!

For the team at PML, this last point is our bread and butter. All importers, hauliers and supply staff moving between the EU and the UK must ensure their passport is valid for at least six months. It’s also important to ensure that any employees travelling to Europe have new Global Health Insurance Card which replaces the European Health Insurance Cards (the EHIC cards will be valid until their expiry date). Double check whether your employees need visas or work permits here.

Global Health Insurance Card

How does PML security scan its imports?

The Civil Aviation Authority has tough rules on security; that’s why Perishable Movements Limited has its very own industrial metal detector.

PML is always looking to streamline its business and improve its security measures.

Robert Haynes, Business Development Manager at PML discusses the benefits and features of their state-of-the-art warehouse metal detection scanner, which is fully automated, photographs and records every piece of cargo that passes through it.