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Brexit and the subsequent transitional period has affected multiple sectors across the UK, as businesses adapt their models to the new regulations created by the tradedeal. But what effect will this have, and what does it mean for UK food manufacturers? We talk to Matt Covell, Senior Divisional Manager at Search Engineering and Manufacturing and Search Food & Drink.

1)    Consumer confidence may fall

The uncertainty of Brexit, and the long awaited trade deal, has impacted consumer confidence, which will ultimately have an effect on consumer spending. However, amongst the turmoil, there is a strong opportunity for British companies to win market share by demonstrating value to customers.

“By appealing to values that consumers hold close, and by following food trends, businesses can launch innovative products to differentiate themselves in a competitive market,” says Matt. “It’s a great way to obtain new and loyal customers.”

2)    We are no longer operating within the EU’s General Food Law

Tales of chlorinated chicken from the US has increased the general public’s concern about food standards once the UK is an independent nation. However, the Food Standards Agency confirms that absolutely nothing will change in how food standards are regulated and run.

“Having spent time in operations previously, I’m fully aware of health and safety regulations, and can vouch for them being some of the best in the world. Brexit won’t change that,” says Matt. “Consumers expect top quality, and the British food industry is excellent at delivering these standards at competitive consumer prices.”

 

3)    Delays in the supply chain

Delays at the border and with food labelling could mean that some supply chains are interrupted after Brexit. Some businesses have solved this by opening up a UK headquarters, creating local jobs, or by using air freight, but there are other solutions too.

“It’s a good idea to prepare for any potential delays by stock building and investigating multiple suppliers if possible,” says Matt. “It can also help to communicate with your wholesalers and trade associations, because they’re always the first to know about shortages.”

 

4)    Food labelling is changing

Customs and regulatory changes to food packaging and labelling now needs to be rewritten to align with EU law. Included in this is a requirement for an EU address, which many UK food businesses do not have.

“Some companies, particularly those smaller ones that predominantly operate domestically, no longer have an EU address and will be excluded from exporting there,” says Matt. “They will need to decide whether they invest in an EU address, or to be disqualified from that market entirely.”

 

5)    There may be a skills shortage

After Brexit, EU workers must decide to apply for ‘Settled Status’ or to return home. This may mean that some roles are harder to fill, particularly within industries such as food manufacturing, where they make up large numbers of the workforce.

“It helps to be ready for any potential skills shortages down the line,” says Matt. “This could be as simple as reviewing your hiring strategy during the next recruitment drive, or getting support from a recruitment agency like Search, to tap into their large network of candidates.”

If you want to discuss any upcoming changes that will impact your operations in food manufacturing, or how these may impact your people strategy, then get in touch with our Food & Drink manufacturing specialists today.

Matt Covell

Matt is an award winning recruiter and heads up our Food & Drink business for Search across England.

Leonna Sylvester

Leonna heads up our Scottish Food and Drink Manufacturing business and would be happy to provide support to you and your team.

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