Allan Parbery: EU has dug up the road when it comes to finding a route to Europe after Brexit
Regulation after regulation is being put in the way of trading following Brexit. I do not see why a product that has been exported for 35 years suddenly becomes a threat.
The UK Government has not been any help whatsoever and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is not worth the office space because nobody there knows what is going on.
We have been warned for months to ‘get ready’. Get ready for what? I was told by Defra very recently to contact Customs in France to see what it will let through and what it won’t. Strangely, the same advice was given regarding Holland and Belgium because it seems all points of entry are using different rule books.
But how do we possibly find out who to talk to at these entry points? It is difficult enough trying to talk to somebody at Dover. I tried to register with several EU bodies last year and not one of them replied.
Mistral Baits has joined forces with a few other reputable bait companies to try to iron out these difficulties, but every time we find a route the EU have dug up the road. The layman would not believe how many rules and regulations it has dreamed up regarding food dyes, let alone food flavours. There were 129 the last time I looked and they are totally ambiguous. I suppose the French and the German rules were just as poorly written.
Somewhere around 30% to 35% of our business is export related, so it is a huge amount at risk. Jobs are under threat, hours and days worked may reduce, which will impact on peoples’ living standards, and we will also face more issues in trying to get our products further afield.
We have half a lorry load ready to go to Russia and an impending order from the Ukraine. Both shipments are not going to be easy to despatch through the EU, even though the Russian orders are always in vet-sealed containers. We export to most EU countries but everything goes through either French or Dutch Customs and that is where the issues will lie.
The main problem is animal by-product (ABP), which the EU doesn’t like. Believe it or not, this means eggs or egg powder. And guess where it is imported from? Yes, you got it – the EU. It’s senseless bureaucracy.
To date the main impact has been on my time. Every time we find a particular route we follow it to the end where we find the EU have dug the road up. Until we can be classed as fishing bait and not animal feed we will have problems exporting to the EU or through the EU. It will continually find ways of blocking trade. If it can confiscate a lorry driver’s ham sandwich, it can do anything.
Having a deep mistrust of governments and especially unelected unaccountable ones, I took measures some time ago to make some boilies completely free of ABPs. Okay, they don’t contain fishmeal and milk proteins either, but they catch plenty of fish.
We won’t be able to offer our full range to the EU markets, but we will (read should) be able to sell our number one continental product, so maybe it’s not all doom and gloom. At present I am awaiting advice on this, but the road is long and I see no roadworks – yet! This range of baits will be called the V range – Vegan, Vegetarian or Very Good. We’ll let the customer decide.
Allan Parbery is Managing Director of UK bait brand Mistral