According to data released by HMRC, the exports of fruit from the UK to the EU have decreased by more than half since Brexit. Trade barriers introduced as a result of the UK's departure from the EU, including mandatory health certificates and customs paperwork, have been cited as the cause of this decline.
The impact of these trade barriers has been felt on the UK-to-EU side of the Brexit equation. In the year leading up to March 31, 2021, the UK sold £248.5 million worth of fruit to the EU. However, the following year, sales figures dropped to £119 million and have remained at a similar level since then. The latest data for the year ending in March 2023 shows fruit sales of £113.8 million.
Hazelwoods, a chartered accountancy firm that analyzed the figures, identified several factors contributing to this decline. One factor is the risk faced by farmers who may see their produce rot if delayed by customs or phytosanitary officials at EU ports. Additionally, the delays and extra costs associated with exporting fruit have led retailers in continental Europe to seek alternatives within the EU rather than buying from the UK.
The report also suggests that while the overall value of food exports to the EU has increased, a significant portion of this increase can be attributed to rising food prices following the Ukraine crisis.
The data and analysis highlight the challenges faced by the UK fruit sector due to trade barriers resulting from Brexit, including increased costs, delays, and reduced competitiveness in the EU market.