March 19, 2019
UK poultry official warns of damaging consequences due to Brexit
The British Poultry Council (BPC) has welcomed the UK government's temporary tariff regime for a no-deal Brexit, but with just days until the country's official exit from the EU, called on parliamentarians to prevent a no-deal outcome in order to ensure affordability and availability of British food.
Richard Griffiths, chief executive of BPC, welcomed the government's recognition "of the importance of British poultry meat production in feeding the nation." He noted that his organisation is currently examining the impact of the UK's proposed no-deal tariffs and will raise concerns over the implementation of these tariffs around the Northern Ireland border.
Nevertheless, a no-deal Brexit should be prevented. Griffiths expressed concern that such a scenario "would be incredibly damaging for our sector, for our ability to trade, for our workforce and for British consumers of poultry meat."
"We directly employ 40,200 people up and down the country, 60% of our workforce are EU nationals. Britain could risk losing the EU nationals employed by our sector, the GBP5.1 billion (US$6.8 billion) Gross Value Added we contribute to the economy and the GBP1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in tax revenue we generate," he explained.
Griffiths also pointed out that close to "three quarters of our imports (GBP2 billion/year) and exports (GBP500 million/year) are with the EU - ensuring a continuation of trade with that market is essential."
"We are concerned that leaving with no-deal could effectively result in the import of products produced to lower standards; and in export tariffs being imposed on poultry meat that goes to the EU (27% increase on chicken)," he said.
In addition, a no-deal Bexit could drive up production costs "which would be reflected in the price of fresh UK chicken." Based on the BPC's estimation, Griffiths warned that the price of breast meat could spike by 25%.
He reiterated the BPC's earlier warning of a two-tier food system "where only the affluent can afford to eat British poultry that meets British standards from farm to fork."
"It's crucial that the UK finds a workable trade deal with the EU and gives our sector access to non-UK labour," Griffiths concluded.
- British Poultry Council