When we set our six month’s blog rolling schedule, we hoped to be in final preparations for March 29th. This week’s blog would be final guidance on what to expect. Instead we are none the wiser on Brexit. Or on government advice on Brexit for catering businesses in the event of a no-deal exit.
I doubt that anyone in the country was expecting a miracle or even a viable resolution to the Brexit issues following the Government’s many recent debates. British MPs have opted for a three-month delay in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not up to the British Government to dictate a delay. The 27 other EU countries need to be convinced that there is a good reason why the deadline should be extended and then need to agree that this is the right approach.
Parliament is divided, as are the main political parties internally. The main concerns about a no-deal Brexit is damage to the economy and shortages or price increases in food and medicine, with other consequences thrown into the mix.
The Government was given until this week to agree a deal that will enable a breathing space until 30 June. But effectively, the only deal proposed is the same one that MPs rejected last week. The EU is getting frustrated. But Donald Tusk, the European Council president says he would urge the EU member countries “to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it”.
No Deal, No Kidding & No Government Advice
In late 2018, the Government published 106 technical notices to ensure that citizens and businesses are furnished with the information to prepare for Brexit. There are over 100 pages of guidance for businesses in general. The Government claims to have contacted more than 145,000 businesses currently trading with the EU, advising them to start getting ready for no-deal customs procedures. However, the bottom line is summed up by this statement: “we recommend businesses now also ensure they are prepared and enact their own no-deal plans.”
We have looked across the guidance published by the Departments of Business, Energy and Industrial Policy (BEIS), Digital Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) and Defra. The bad news is we can’t find anything that is prepared directly on Brexit for catering businesses. Food manufacturers or marketing standards for fresh fruit and veg are in Defra but not catering. Nor anything in DCMS which usually covers tourism. Or you might want to use the BEIS tool to select the papers it thinks are relevant to your business. Your answers might turn up something as the good news is that advice is being added.
So what does this mean for the catering industry? A main worry is of course, the trading logistics. This includes the cost of importing as well as the sourcing of ingredients from overseas. Will trade be affected? Will we be able to get the produce that we need at the price we want? Let’s face it, we have had two years to source alternatives in the event of a worst-case scenario and ingenuity may be the key. The food industry is constantly evolving with new variations and combinations of food emerging all the time.
If you are in the catering industry, check out locally grown and sourced ingredients. Contact bigger food manufacturers who have been quietly stockpiling key ingredients for the last few months. Experiment with different combinations.
And as for kitchen equipment, get everything checked over. AC Services are increasing their stock levels. But some spare parts will have to be ordered from abroad and they may take longer to arrive. They may not but are you willing to take the chance?
In the meantime, the headache they call Brexit rumbles on. When and if a deal is concluded satisfactory to all parties, we will keep you updated on the potential impacts of Brexit for catering businesses.