Grocers call for “urgent” action to prevent Northern Ireland supply shortage

Michael Gove BRC Helen Dickinson Brexit
Current proposals for border arrangements - including new bureaucracy and need for certification - are "unworkable" in the given timescale
// Grocery leaders warn “urgent intervention” needed from government to prevent “significant disruption” to Northern Ireland’s food supplies
// Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Co-op and M&S wrote to Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Gove that it is “essential” to find a long term solution with the EU
// Since December 31, Northern Ireland has remained as the only part of the UK in the EU’s single market for goods

UK supermarket leaders have called for “urgent intervention” from the government to prevent “significant disruption” to Northern Ireland’s food supplies in the wake of Brexit border arrangements.

The chief executives of Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Co-op and Marks & Spencer wrote in a letter to Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Gove that it is “essential” to find a long term solution with the EU before March 31, on sending food to Northern Ireland. The letter was also signed by BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

Since December 31, Northern Ireland has remained as the only part of the UK in the EU’s single market for goods, meaning foods entering from UK have to be professionally certified and are subject to new checks.


READ MORE: Northern Ireland retailers “experiencing some disruption after Brexit”


The end of March marks the end of a Brexit grace period, which has exempted some retailers such red tape in their supply chains.

Current proposals for border arrangements – including new bureaucracy and need for certification – are “unworkable” in the given timescale.

The group said that without intervention, supplies and affordability of food in Northern Ireland will worsen.

M&S has temporarily withdrawn some food products, warning supplies are under threat.

The supermarkets urged the government to “work with us to ensure the long term sustainability of the Northern Irish grocery market”.

“We accept clear progress needs to be made by April 1 and are happy to discuss out issues and solutions directly with EU officials,” they said.

Last week, retailers warned that businesses in Northern Ireland have experienced disruption while suppliers in the rest of the UK adapt to post-Brexit arrangements.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium director Aodhan Connolly said there may be less choice but they are working hard to continue to provision the country.

A protocol agreed between the EU and UK is designed to reduce friction on trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland following a divorce deal avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

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