British food trapped in Europe as port chaos spreads


(The disruption is spreading to lorry ports)


“We’ve been a week now trying to sort out documents on two containers of ginger stuck in Zeebrugge that we can’t get trucked back to the UK because the shipping line is determined to sea-freight them back to Felixstowe,” said Steve Swain, business unit director at Minor, Weir and Willis.

Minor, Weir and Willis公司的業務部門主管史蒂夫·斯溫表示:“我們已經花了一周時間,試圖為被困在澤布呂赫港的兩個集裝箱的生姜辦理手續,我們無法用卡車將它們運回英國,因為航運公司決定用海運將它們運回費利克斯托?!?

The goods could have been driven across to the UK within 12 hours, explained Swain, but the paperwork required to change the port of destination can take days. “It’s maddening, but alongside all of the chaos of Felixstowe, we’re now in the middle of a load of bureaucracy as well.”


For some small suppliers, the diversions into Europe are costing “hundreds of thousands of pounds a month”, said Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the FDF, with the impacts now having a material effect on their ability to prepare for next year.


Supermarkets are also facing similar difficulties, with some reporting increased shipping costs of 25% week on week. They are urging the government to act. BRC director of food & sustainability Andrew Opie has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps to urge him to “take all action possible to clear the logjam” and allow goods to flow seamlessly into the UK.


He added: “While these rates continue to rise, and the disruption at ports and in shipping continues, retailers face significant challenges with the import of some items ahead of Christmas.”


Richard Ballantyne, CEO of the British Ports Association, said the issues were “cascading” beyond container ports, with delays at lorry ports now increasingly common. “I think all the RoRo [lorry] ports on the east coast are certainly seeing increased activity,” he said.


Tesco chairman John Allan confirmed this week that the retailer was stockpiling ambient food to mitigate disruption. Tesco and Asda have both previously said they will look to spread their European imports around UK ports next year to avoid the worst of the disruption at Dover.


French media reported significant queues at Calais this week due to increased traffic entering the UK.