‘Crisis – The EU Meat Industry in a Hard Brexit Scenario’ report, commissioned by UECBV and carried out by Red Flag Consulting, analyses the potential impact of a hard Brexit on the European and UK meat industry. It found that a ‘no-deal’ outcome would lead to a collapse in trade, with a 90% drop in beef exports and 53% drop in lamb exports from the UK to the EU.
In this scenario, the report says meat products would face greater burdens than almost any other sector:
- Higher WTO tariffs than any other sector
- Additional costs of veterinary checks, in addition to the customs checks faced by all goods
- Major disruption to supply chains and chaos for just-in-time fresh meat delivery systems
A hard Brexit would severely impact UK meat exporters, says the report. Conservative estimates in the report put exports from the UK to the EU falling by up to 90% for beef, 56% for pigmeat and 53% for sheepmeat. It says it would be ’very difficult’ for UK suppliers to find alternative markets for these products domestically, as the UK exports cheaper cuts not demanded locally.
The report finds that a hard Brexit will have a profoundly negative impact on the European meat market given the major trade flows between EU27 and UK. As the UK has a principally deficit meat market, the negative impacts will be felt throughout the EU.
As meat-processing involves the disassembly of carcass to a myriad of consumer cuts and products, it thus has to find markets for all parts of the carcass and therefore the impact will be transmitted throughout the single market to affect all countries, even those with limited direct trade with UK.
According to the report’s authors, the shock of a hard Brexit would be significantly greater than the industry crisis created by the Russian food import ban 2014, and it would be more difficult to find alternative markets for diverted products.
The report also concludes that solutions will be needed to minimise disruption and disaster for the European meat industry. It recommends:
- A timely and sufficiently long transitional period to allow businesses to adjust to new arrangements
- A future trading relationship that creates minimal burden for business, especially SMEs, and maintains current trading conditions as much as possible
- Ensuring continued regulatory convergence between the UK and EU
- Implementing market support mechanisms including increased market access, internationally simplified transit systems, and vital investment in port facilities
Commenting on the report, Liz Murphy, CEO of UK member the International Meat Trade Association, said: “The UK meat industry and those in all other member states have come together to analyse the impact of a hard Brexit on the European meat industry, including the UK. As with other industries the current uncertainty is making it difficult for companies to plan ahead. The meat industry has a number of characteristics which pose unique challenges to our sector, such as high tariffs and veterinary checks.
“The UK and EU27 meat industry are agreed that a deal needs to be reached in order to avoid the damaging implications of a hard Brexit to industry but also consumers.”