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Europe closes borders to UK - is fresh produce still moving?

This weekend, an increasing number of European countries banned travellers entering from the United Kingdom. On Sunday ferries were also stopped for passengers and the Eurotunnel closed for 48 hours. The move was made after the UK recorded 35,928 new cases of Corona virus on Sunday, more than double that recorded seven days previously, this is said to be due to a mutated variant of the virus has arisen which and is said to be up to 70% more contagious.

Only un-manned trailers are permitted on the Dover to Calais ferry, from Calais drivers are permitted but the question is if they will be able to return.

Although supply of food remains essential, the British supermarket Sainsbury, among others, fears shortages of fruit and vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli and citrus, but indicates that there is still enough of it in stock. Today, both the UK and the EU are in urgent discussions on border closures to find coordinated action for transport to and from the UK.

An Irish importer had a load in from the UK on Saturday and one from Holland this morning and is hoping for another from the UK tomorrow, has had no issues with transport as yet but has just heard that there 60 Irish trucks with fresh produce stuck in France this morning unable to get a ferry to the UK.

Traders in the UK are very frustrated and taking stock of what they have, not sure if there will been enough product. 

Serious shortage of capacity
“We had a huge volume spike due to Brexit in recent weeks,” says Marcus Post of the Daily Logistics Group. “There is another peak in Christmas sales around this time and now a decreasing number of connections between the UK and the EU. That creates big challenges at the moment. ”

Philip van Geest, director of Van Geest International, also sees massive orders still coming in from the UK. “The trick is to get it all across the channel now that the tunnel is closed. At the moment we will not send drivers to the UK because if they go with the freight it is still unclear whether they can come back. Not much has changed for the regular customers on the ferries. After all, the ferries work with reservations and regular customers come first.”

In the meantime, the ferry services are declaring that they will continue to sail to and from the UK. For example, Stena-line will continue to sail from Hook of Holland and Europoort to the ports of Harwich and Killingholme. “We will continue to transport trucks with and without drivers to and from Great Britain until further notice,” said a Stena-line spokesperson. "But at the moment everything is fully booked, there is no space for other trucks." The companies P&O Ferries and DFDS also issued similar statements.

“This is obviously a concerning development especially given the sudden nature of the decision," stated Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, British Ports Association." Unaccompanied freight is still flowing between the UK and a number of EU states including France and Ireland, for now at least. However the big impact will be on driver accompanied freight and passenger transport. There could a period of disruption at some of the UK’s ferry ports for the next 48 hours so we are urging travellers to look at the advice given by their carriers. It’s not clear if this will last much longer. We are also in touch with the Department for Transport who are looking at a number of resilience issues but we are confident that the UK will continue to be supplied.”

For many years, DLG has specialized in the transport of trucks on ferries. “Only the trailers which can be picked up in England by British drivers go on the ferry. However, we also do some volumes via the tunnel and we have now tried hard to transfer them to the ferries. That worked out quite well, but people who are now trying to book last minute will have to join the back of the queue. ”

The logistics lines to get fruit and vegetables into the UK are still open, its just that volumes are massively increasing. “Just look at the UK demand for French and Italian products,” says Philip. “At the moment they no longer have the option of reaching the other side. So the UK is very reliant on the Dutch traders.”

For more information:
Daily Logistics Group
Marcus Post
Tel: +31(0)174 531 792
[email protected]

Van Geest International
Philip van Geest
Tel: +31 174-514300
[email protected]

Tel: +31 174 315 811