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.

What is ocean freight: a complete guide

Ocean freight, also called sea freight, is the movement of goods internationally by sea. Ocean freight is far and away the most popular option for shipping goods internationally.

Roughly 90% of goods are transported around the world by sea. But while it’s popular, that doesn’t mean it is the only option or the best one for that matter.

Whether you are just starting or are a veteran in international shipping, most business owners find that they need to review their shipping options from time to time.

If you’re currently at that point where you need to ask “Does ocean freight make sense for me?”, we’re here to help.

What is ocean freight?

Ocean freight is the method of transporting goods through the sea. It is an important part of cross-border trade that lets people move massive amounts of goods between countries.

The goods are typically transported on ships through the open ocean. There are many kinds of shipping options available for different kinds of goods. One of the most popular is container shipping, technically named containerization. With this option, goods are shipped using containers with standard sizes of 20 to 40 feet.

Apart from ocean freight, there are other international freight transport modes, which include courier, express air freight, and standard air freight. All of these transport modes involve shipping by air and are therefore much faster than ocean freight. They typically take between 1 to 2 weeks. But they are also far more expensive than ocean freight and can only take smaller shipments.

Air freight vs ocean freight: how to choose

While ocean freight certainly is not cheap when shipping small quantities, it scales really well. For larger shipments, it produces a better overall cost. This is why it has become such an important part of international trade. Despite this, ocean freight is much slower, as the typical time for the arrival of most shipments is between 40 to 60 days.

Types of ocean freight services

As mentioned earlier, container shipping is one of the most popular options for ocean freight. This is largely due to its relative safety and ease of handling. Containers can be moved very easily without disturbing the goods being shipped. However, they are only a good option for certain kinds of goods, such as dry or already packaged goods.

When it comes to container shipping, there are essentially two types of shipping services that are available – LCL or FCL. LCL means less than container load, while FCL means full container load.

FCL shipments basically involve shipping your goods via one or more containers that you use exclusively. Only your goods will be in the container, ensuring that your shipment will be undisturbed until you open the container by yourself. This option makes the most sense when you have goods that can fill a container or that nearly fill it up.

With LCL shipments, the goods intended to be shipped are usually less than it takes to fill a container. So, instead of having a container all to yourself, which can be relatively expensive, you can split the cost and share the container with goods belonging to other people. But the downside to this option is that your goods may be more vulnerable to mishandling or damage during the voyage.

How to ship using ocean freight

Ocean freight relies heavily on the services of third parties called freight forwarders. Freight forwarders usually mean a third-party individual or company who pick up your goods, properly arrange them to be loaded and onboard for shipping, and eventually correctly delivered to the final destination. This is because it is usually necessary to have trusted eyes and hands that can help collect your goods from the seller, arrange shipping and place your goods aboard the ship.

The shipping contract is also an important part of the process you should know about. There are standard international shipping terms that govern ocean freight contracts. These are called “Incoterms”, short for international commercial terms. It defines how far along the process will the seller be held responsible for the goods, and at what point will the buyer takes over the liability for the shipment.

The most popular incoterms are:

FOB (Free on Board): Under the FOB agreement, buyers and sellers share the responsibility of the delivery process. Seller takes obligations to make sure the goods are packaged, labeled appropriately, and loaded correctly ready for shipping. Once the goods have been loaded onboard, the obligations transfer to the buyer.
EXW (Ex Works): An EXW contract places the majority of responsibility on the buyer. The buyer picks up goods at the manufacturer’s and is responsible for the transit of the goods to their final destination.

DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): With DDP, the seller takes the maximum obligations and buyers take minimum obligations. The terms dictate that the seller will be responsible for the costs of shipping, insuring the goods and inland transportation.
There’s obviously a lot to learn about how these Incoterms work and which makes the most sense for you.

After deciding your shipping terms, the process of concluding the ocean freight will involve the following stages:

Export haulage: This is the start of the shipping journey. At this stage, your goods will be transported from the seller’s warehouse to your freight forwarder’s warehouse.
Export customs clearance: Most countries require goods that are meant for export to first go through clearance. Clearance will include providing a detailed declaration of the cargo, along with supporting documentation.

Origin handling: This stage covers all the activities that will be necessary to prepare your goods for shipping. The cargo will be put in a staging area for inspection and confirmation. Once confirmed, the freight forwarder will issue a cargo receipt confirming that they have received the goods as described. If the shipment is FCL, the goods will be stacked in their container. If LCL, they will be placed in the warehouse to await consolidation with other goods in a container headed for the same destination port. Finally, the container will be trucked to the port of departure to await loading on the ship.

Ocean freight: This is the actual transportation of the goods across the ocean. The stages up to this point may take days or weeks, depending on several factors. Ocean freight itself will likely take anywhere from 20-60 days, depending on where the goods are headed.

Import customs clearance: Once the goods arrive at their destination port, they will await import clearance. It also involves completing the necessary forms, declaring the cargo and paying the necessary fees.

Destination handling: This stage covers all the activities necessary to confirm the goods, check the documents including the bill of lading and transporting the container to the freight forwarder’s warehouse. Here, the goods will be opened, checked and then sorted for import haulage.

Import haulage: This is the final stage of the process. At this stage, the goods will be transported inland by train or truck to the final destination determined by you.
The freight forwarder can be charged with handling every stage of the process. Or you may decide to make alternative arrangements for certain stages to save costs.

How are ocean freight rates calculated?

Ocean freight rates are usually determined based on a number of charges, such as the cost per weight of goods and the space they take up. For instance, ocean freight typically costs around 50 cents per kilogram (kg)2.

Other charges that may be included in the freight rate include:

Customs security surcharge
Container freight station (this applies to LCL consolidation only)
Pickup and delivery at ports and warehouses
Routing charges
Customs brokerage
Fuel surcharge

Ocean freight charges are not static. Depending on a number of factors, the price may go significantly higher, or may fall even lower. Some of these factors include:

Fuel costs: Fuel is critical to shipping goods via sea freight, and the prices can sometimes be volatile. When prices rise, you can expect rates to rise as well.
Exchange rates: Slight fluctuations in exchange rates can result into a severe loss for shipping lines, especially considering how long a single trip can take.
Supply and demand: Festive holidays often mean people work less, and this also affects the shipping industry. As a result, just before festive holidays like Chinese New Year, there is usually a spike in demand that can drive freight rates up.
Size of shipment: Obviously, larger-sized shipments will include a lot more work and will cost significantly more.

Type of vessel required: Containerised shipping is quick, easy and effective, which makes it relatively cheap. Other vessels, such as tankers for liquid cargo, or bulk carriers for unpackaged dry goods may cost more.
ocean freight charges

What are the pros and cons of ocean freight?

As you have learned already, ocean freight may be popular, but it has both its high points and low points. Some of the advantages you can expect from ocean freight include:

Higher shipping capacity: Sea freight is perfect for bulky shipments. Other shipping options are only viable for lighter products that are not being shipped in bulk.
Cheaper costs: Overall, ocean freight is much cheaper than other options, costing just 50 cents per kg. Compare this to standard air freight which costs roughly $4 per kg and express air freight, which costs $6 per kg.

Fewer restrictions: Shipping by air freight is subject to several restrictions relating to the type of goods you can ship. For instance, you cannot ship flammable products like perfumes or biochemical products like some medicines on air freight. There are fewer restrictions for shipping by sea.

Lower carbon footprint: Ocean freight produces relatively lower emissions than air freight. New regulations introduced by the International Maritime Organisation will reduce these emissions even further.

Despite the positives, here are some negatives to keep in mind:

Longer shipping time: Ocean freight is so much slower than air freight, which is usually five to six times faster. Taking the example of the freight between the US and China, shipment by sea will take about 30-40 days, whereas shipment by air only takes about a week, and express air may only take 3 days.

Unpredictable shipping: Ocean freight is more vulnerable to external shocks like bad weather, customs delays and port congestion. This can easily add days or weeks to your delivery.

Less protection: Since they are in transit for much longer, goods shipped by ocean freight are more susceptible to damage.

Less reliable: Due to the many moving parts involved in ocean freight, goods are at a greater risk of being mishandled or misplaced.

When does it make sense to choose ocean freight?

You should consider going with ocean freight if you are shipping large or bulky goods, or when it is vital to reduce your shipping costs to save money. Ocean freight also works very well when you have a high volume of orders within the same period.

But if you are deciding to go with ocean freight, you should generally leave more than enough time for the goods to arrive. If you do not have flexible delivery dates, then you may be better off looking elsewhere. The complexity of the process and the potential for delays may put you in a less than ideal situation otherwise.

Overall, ocean freight represents a great option for international shipping, but only in the right circumstances. It can be a relatively cheap option, but this is often offset by the ambiguity in the process.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK’s export market

Perishable Movement Limited’s Business Development Manager Robert Haynes explains how the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption to the goods import and export market.

The industry has seen huge uncertainty with prices and cost of transporting goods due to an uncertain global transport system.

Despite the tough market PML has managed Block Space Agreements and Single Carriage Agreements to secure and maintain competitive prices for their customers.

PML continue to work closely with all carriers to ensure customers’ products arrive on time and in perfect condition.