FDF expresses concerns over costly ‘not for EU’ labelling in Northern Ireland

The chief executive of the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, Karen Betts, has expressed concerns over a potential £250 million costs in additional new labelling being required by the government for goods heading towards Northern Ireland, reports Neill Barston.

This week, a deal has been struck with the DUP party in Northern Ireland over restoring the Stormont Parliament, which has been left in limbo for nearly two years following major concerns over how produce, including some lines related to the snacks, confectionery and bakery sectors, as well as dairy, and wider agricultural markets, will be treated.

Key concerns have centred on government proposed ‘not intended for use in the EU’ which will apply to all agri-goods sold in the UK – which many industry observers have stated is creating a needless additional and costly workload.

Many close to the agreement have noted that in creating such restrictive labelling, may in fact lead to a reduced range of products being offered in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, in order to bypass the new regulations.

They come as separate checks into the UK on EU animal, meat and dairy produce import checks have now come into force yesterday, after having been delayed on five separate occasions by the UK government – with many observers noting that the failure to bring in checks has related to the potential additional administration costs, that are claimed by some observers to cost in the region of £330 million a year.

Karen Betts (pictured, Chief Executive, The Food and Drink Federation said: “We’re waiting to hear from the government on what the deal with the DUP means for the food and drink industry. It’s critical to food and drink businesses that any deal does not cause unnecessary costs to manufacturers and, ultimately, to consumers across the UK – particularly when households are already grappling with a cost-of-living crisis.

“The impact and costs of requiring ‘not for EU’ labelling on products sold right across the UK, not only in Northern Ireland, would be significant. We estimate the costs would run into hundreds of millions of pounds. Manufacturers could be forced to reduce the number of products they sell in the UK and food and drink exports are likely to fall, particularly those produced by SMEs.”

In a further comment with the Guardian Newspaper, she claimed that the cost of the Northern Ireland additional labelling would reach around £250 million, and that the FDF had only been invited for ‘quite insubstantial talks’ with the government on how the new regime would in fact be implemented.

She added: “I think the real pity of it all is that companies are not going to put that money into upskilling their employees or into pay. It’s kind of a sunk cost. It’s a labelling change to solve a problem that we think does not exist,” adding that monitoring would be required to see whether such schemes were warranted at all. She explained that concerns existed that any such venture would ultimately lead to consumers paying more for goods.



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