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A lot of folk have been asking about the effect of Brexit on us so far.

We’ve a fair vantage point to see and hear what’s going on but we only directly import from Europe the dentabs from Germany, and previously (probably not again) the cork products from Portugal. With a decent stockholding of the dentabs (toothpaste tablets) we haven’t yet had to enter the bureaucracy directly, though we’ve received enough messages about it from the government: invites to webinars, policies to read, registrations to make.

Migration - You’ve heard of Chilly’s water bottles. They’ve a big market in the UK and also in Europe. They’ve decided that to continue their supply into Europe, presumably because of the tariffs introduced what with the bottles being manufactured in China, that they’re setting up a distribution center in the EU. That’ll be good for a lot of Europeans picking up jobs, whilst the current UK distribution center will lose the packing and sending of orders received from the continent.

Olive oil – in early January we went without for a week which our supplier – Will who receives it in the UK from his Greek friend Illias with whom he went to university – attributed to Brexit related hold-ups.

Olive oil containers – Will and Illias’s business is booming (because they and they’re olive oil are great) and they need more containers to add to their circular supply chains with customers like us. The containers come from Europe but “due to the wonders of Brexit” the company they bought from no longer sell to the UK, so we’ve been warned that we may soon face another stock-out of olive oil.

Fabric conditioner – we had to switch supplier temporarily (2x 20l tubs) as one of the ingredients of the fabric conditioner couldn’t be promptly sourced from Europe. Our supplier said the issue was Brexit-caused but we don’t know for sure, being once removed.

Peanut butter – don’t panic, we’ve an alternative which will be the same taste but our peanuts were previously roasted in The Netherlands. The company that normally imported them / had them sent to us has decided that, due to Brexit implications, it’s dropping that element of its business.

Tea – we currently have no Earl Grey and are lucky to have English Breakfast (found a new supply) because of “massive delays at the port”. The website also says ‘unfortunately, at this time all couriers with currently-operational services to the EU have categorised our products as items they choose not to carry between the UK and EU countries. Customers may have seen information about this issue in the media, many couriers have adopted restrictions against transporting products within very widely-defined categories, causing problems for a wide range of UK businesses and consumers. At this time we therefore must make a temporary pause on sending parcel orders to EU destinations.’ Bad for the UK business wanting to export tea, and for the Europeans wanting to drink it.

Pasta – We suggested a new pasta recently and received the response “we’re lucky if we can get any pasta at the moment” – I’ll pipe down! This was from our biggest supplier, a worker co-operative that we cherish. Their website advises that ‘Now that the UK is no longer an EU Member State, trade between the UK and EU and Northern Ireland is now much more complicated. Regrettably, we have decided to suspend all EU/NI deliveries whilst we continue to assess the implications of the recent EU / UK Free Trade Deal.’ I’ve no idea how big their trade with the EU or Northern Ireland was.

Maple Syrup - It normally arrives from our UK supplier within a week but the most recent order was made during the first week of December and arrived in the last week of January. The delay was initially said to be due to “weather” and later “issues at the port”. I don’t know for sure whether they were Brexit related but given issues with the olive oil, tea, fabric conditioner etc. it’s likely that changes in the functioning of the ports due to new and additional regulation (which ought to play the role in making trade safer for the consumer but in this case is not helpful in that regard) played a part. Understandably, most people chose not to wait so long for their breakfast / pancake accompaniment and bought from a supermarket whom, though suffering their own related travails, would have had at least one type of maple syrup in stock.

Prices – we have been variously warned by suppliers about “increased prices coming due to potential Customs Duties, Import Taxes and Declarations administration” but as yet haven’t seen increases that are definitively due to Brexit. Potentially that’s because the UK is giving importers of non-controlled and non-excise goods a six month grace period until the end of June 2021, so businesses importing such goods from the EU to the UK, can opt to delay making customs declarations until 30 June 2021. Or it could be because much of the stuff we’re selling now would have entered the UK towards the end of last year, it’s difficult to be sure but for now price increases have been modest.

We’ve had other products not arriving as expected recently – more than usual but nothing very dramatic – these may be due to issues in trade between the UK and the EU but we haven’t sought an explanation on every occasion so can’t be certain enough to add more specific examples.

If this report requires regular updates in the months and years to come there won't be time for it.

21 Feb 2021

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