On Friday 7th April 2017 Food Storage & Distribution Federation Chief Executive, Chris Sturman, along with representatives from a number of FSDF member companies, met with the Department for Transport to discuss the concerns of the temperature-controlled food logistics industry following the triggering of Article 50.

Accompanying him were Graham Doe, Managing Director of Solstor UK Ltd, Jon Miles, UK Director at Newcold, Norman Highnam, Contracts Director at Marshalls Fleet Solutions and David Price, Operations Director of Fresh Logistics.

Discussions centred around:

  • Labour availability – approximately 50,000 EU nationals are currently driving UK registered food distribution vehicles in the UK and a further 150,000 or more work in UK warehousing and distribution centres.
  • Border controls
    • Minimisation of supply chain disruption, lack of land space for parked vehicles and particular concern at the inability of HMRC to handle the volume of vehicles and consignments even with their new system due in October 2019.
    • Union Customs Code
    • UK Border Force vehicle accreditation scheme
    • Increased opportunities for incursions into queued vehicles waiting in Northern France to enter the UK.
    • The future Irish Border – 1/5 of UK exports go to the Republic of Ireland and 1/3 of their exports come into the UK so there is a need for a transparent and open border between the two.
  • Port Health – resources, requirements, facilities and potential threats to the UK food supply from vehicles and drivers waiting at the ports.
  • Cabotage (and the removal of it!) – reduction of temperature controlled distribution capacity in the UK domestic market.
  • Future vehicle maintenance standards and regulatory enforcement, road and fuel tax regimes to develop an even playing field, given 90 % of all vehicles bringing in imports are registered in the 27 EU residual states.
  • Drivers’ Hours simplification to encourage younger people to take up driving as a longer-term career – the current regime being over complex, strictly regulated and perceived to threaten long term career prospects. It is less stressful and safer, in many cases, to work in a TC DC or warehouse which is equally well paid by hours worked and less likely to land up in court or in front of the Traffic Commissioners, with the threat of having your livelihood taken away.

Chris Sturman commented: “FSDF will continue to represent the views and concerns of our members in future meetings with the Department for Transport and indeed all relevant Government departments during the process of exiting the EU. We welcome involvement from all our members and if you would like to share your views, please do get in touch with the FSDF team.”