An EU trade deal is crucial to British food security, poultry processors warn

The British poultry meat sector has emphasised the need for the UK to secure a trade deal with the EU, amid reports that trade talks between the two sides have reached an impasse.

Defra secretary of state George Eustice said in a BBC interview yesterday that leaving with no deal would represent “success” for the UK because it would regain sovereignty, despite the tariffs that would come into force on goods traded between the two blocs.

With only four months until the end of the transition period, the British Poultry Council said it was “essential” that the UK and EU reach a trade deal that enables British poultry meat businesses to ensure seamless movement of perishable goods and breeding stock without delays. The British poultry meat sector is calling for a UK trade policy that supports British businesses by maintaining our world-leading standards, removing unnecessary trade barriers, and building long-term relationships with trading partners.

British Poultry Council, Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “We must keep food moving through fair and resilient trade to put food on every table across the country, create good jobs and enhance our food security. If not, we risk the accessibility of British food and British business viability here in the UK.

“Our industry relies on trade to find a market for 75% of the bird that is left over after removing the breast – the nation’s preference. Three-quarters of our imports (£2bn/year) and exports (£635m/year) are traded with the EU. Absence of markets for these products pushes more value into UK consumed breast meat, and thereby increases prices, meaning that food is less accessible for those who need it most.

“Likewise, if UK breeding companies are not allowed to carry on trading with the EU, businesses will be forced to move their breeding programmes to other countries. As a highly integrated sector that is incredibly depended on the just-in-time supply chain and seamless movements of goods, it is crucial that the poultry meat sector has the right trade EU agreement in place to ensure access to safe, wholesome and nutritious British food for British citizens.”

UK poultry meat businesses will require a period of adjustment after the formal transition period ends. This will allow time for a range of business-critical changes to be implemented and ensure full compliance on day one. The period of adjustment should only begin when precise details of the future UK-EU trading relationship have been agreed and clearly communicated to the industry.

“Our businesses require continued tariff-free EU market access to ensure quality and affordable British food for UK consumers,” said Griffiths. “The absence of a deal will penalise British businesses as they will face large tariff bills for goods that cannot be sourced in the UK. All of this will have a knock-on impact on the cost of British poultry meat and impact future viability of British businesses. We look forward to working with the Government to secure a continuation of the EU market to put food on every table, ensure business viability and UK food security.”

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