Freshfel, FPC urge government to delay derogation for plant health certification

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Freshfel and the Fresh Produce Consortium have asked the UK government to hold off on instituting a requirement that imports from the European Union need phytosanitary certificates from 1 April.

The European fresh produce association and the FPC say effects from the costs of the 750,000 PCs will put an enormous strain on an already taxed system and may have the potential to affect "just in time" delivery of perishable produce. They say importers, exporters and the national plant protection organisations simply cannot handle the massive requirements at this time.

Freshfel and FPC say the industry is already dealing with €55 million in costs because of new administration, customs and trading processes.

"Postponing the introduction of the phyto requirement for EU imports until electronic certification is in place would facilitate trade on both sides of the Channel. It’s the very least we need to help maintain supplies of fresh produce”, added Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium.

In their letter to Rt. Hon Michael Gove, the two groups say that more than 75% of all produce exported to the UK would need a PC annually under this directive. 

Though some large operations will be able to have just one PC per truck, smaller customers and wholesale require more than 10. Freshfel and the FPC said that could lead to massive delays, food waste and other unforseen costs. 

“We ask the UK to consider a derogation to reflect the very limited phytosanitary risk of fresh fruit and vegetables exchanges across the Channel after over 40 years of free and safe flows, and the fact that EU and UK plant health legislation will remain, at least in the mid-term, almost identical,” said Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard.

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