In February this yr, the UK and EU signed the post-Brexit Windsor Framework settlement, amending the unique Northern Eire Protocol. When his new deal was signed, Rishi Sunak boasted it could ship ‘clean flowing commerce inside the entire of the UK.’
The deal got here into impact in October. Two months later and enterprise leaders are warning that tons of of hundreds of thousands of kilos in commerce is now in danger, and that plans for the UK-wide roll-out of legislative circumstances prolong Brussels’ necessities.
Since October, all meat and sure dairy merchandise coming from the UK to be offered in Northern Eire have to be stamped with ‘not for EU’ labels, in order that items will not be moved onto the Republic of Eire. Nonetheless, underneath the commerce settlement, from October 2024, all meat and dairy merchandise offered throughout Britain can be required to have the labels, no matter whether or not they had been supposed to be despatched to Northern Eire or not. As of July 2025, the labels can be a requirement for all UK meals merchandise and can be utilized to meals that’s each produced within the UK and imported.
Meals export leaders and companies are warning that EU exports may plummet on account of the extra prices and burdens of constructing separate manufacturing runs for European and UK markets.
Sean Ramsden, CEO of the meals export organisation, Ramsden Worldwide, and director of the Meals and Drink Exporters Affiliation, described the brand new guidelines as “completely cataclysmic for meals exporters.”
Talking to POLITICO, Ramsden mentioned finally all of the merchandise he’s provided with by companion Co-op “can be labelled ‘not for EU,’ which implies we are able to’t export them to the EU.”
He continued that bigger producers might discover the brand new system simpler to adjust to, however the adjustments may show too costly for smaller companies.
“A whole lot of producers will in all probability simply quit on the European market,” he mentioned. “It appears an inconsequential factor to say, ‘put it onto the packaging,’ however in follow it means altering manufacturing runs. Producers are saying that is loopy as a result of they don’t need to begin doing extra manufacturing runs.”
Ramsden spoke of the speedy risk the brand new system presents to producers, with some already utilizing the labelling guidelines in preparation for it coming into impact. Consequently, Ramsden’s firm is having to do handbook checks on every part. He warned that an extra unintended consequence of the system can be that non-EU shoppers can be delay by the ‘not for EU’ labels.
“If we export to different markets, what are the shoppers going to suppose once they see ‘not for EU’ on the packaging? They will query whether or not it’s protected,” he added.
The Meals and Drink Federation (FDF) shares comparable considerations. Its director, Balwinder Dhoot, lately warned that the rolling out of the labelling system would “run into tons of of hundreds of thousands of kilos a yr throughout the trade.”
“It generates a threat for tons of of hundreds of thousands, if not billions, of kilos’ price of exports. That’s an pointless home coverage. You can not have a commerce coverage that’s making an attempt to advertise exports on one hand, after which undermine that with home coverage on the opposite,” Dhoot instructed MPs in November.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Ahead