Posted: 11/10/2021

Brexit import rules likely to cause Continental cheese price rises

cheese price
La Fromagerie’s Patricia Michelson said bureaucracy will add cost and dissuade artisans from exporting

British cheesemongers are braced for Continental cheese prices to rise, delivery delays and shortages when new Brexit import rules eventually come into place in 2022. In September, the Government deferred these measures for a second time.

EU cheeses were due to be subject to new import requirements and documents, including health certificates, from 1st October but these will now not be required until January 2022. Physical checks at specified Border Control Points were also set to begin on 1st January but this has now been moved to July 2022. 

British cheeses sent to the EU have been subject to similar requirements since January, resulting in a 34% drop in exports in the first half of this year, compared to 2019. 

Now British cheesemongers are predicting the new controls will disrupt imports of cheese from Europe in the same way.

“The future of EU cheese, especially from small artisan producers, is going to be very difficult and the days of showcasing rare finds is in the balance,” said Patricia Michelson, owner of La Fromagerie.

“The sheer weight of paperwork and bureaucracy will scare all the small scale producers from working with us and even if we handle all the paperwork it will be very difficult with the pricing.”

Michelson said that prices are likely to rise, thanks to increased costs for vet inspections that cheesemakers on the Continent won’t pay for. 

She added “There is no way out of this unless the exchange rates are so good we can keep them from increasing, although transport charges will also increase and paperwork handling charges, too.”

At Brindisa, cheese buyer José Bueno Marin said there could be delays of between one and two weeks to cheese consignments from Spain when the new measures come into force. 

“We are also expecting some price rises,” he said. “Some certifications require an annual fee that in some cases will be translated in a price increase.”

Tom Chatfield, CEO of European Fine Cheese, which imports cheese from Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, said the cost of moving goods had doubled in the past year due to Brexit. “The new measures are likely to mean we will have to increase minimum orders or pass on extra costs to customers. These rules hurt smaller cheesemakers the most because they don’t have the capacity to deal with the bureaucracy.” 

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