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Brexit shuts off EU market for English ‘truckle’ cheese producer

Specialist cheese firm forced to ‘switch the light out’ on sales to Europe

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Wednesday 03 February 2021 08:36
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A leading British cheese company has said it can longer sell barrels of cheese directly to consumers in the EU because of Brexit red tape – forcing it to consider setting up in France.

The Cheshire Cheese company sold £180,000 worth of truckles, the traditional name for cheese shaped like a barrel, to countries across Europe last year.

However, managing director Simon Spurrell says that is no longer possible because of the huge additional costs now involved in shipments.

The company found that sending specialist cheeses worth around £25 to EU customers requires a health certificate, signed off by a vet, that costs £180 pounds per consignment.

“That [market] is completely gone. At the moment we’ve had to just switch that light out,” said Mr Spurrell on his orders from the EU.

The company has now put on hold plans for a £1m pound new distribution centre in Macclesfield. Mr Spurrell told Reuters he is considering setting up a new hub in France, where it can still ship on a wholesale basis.

Prior to Brexit, the company had invested in multi-lingual websites which helped EU online sales jump last year. The firm had forecast a 40 per cent rise this year.

Mr Spurrell thinks that the lack of an exemption from costly certificates for direct consumer sales was an oversight in Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade agreement, as negotiators rushed to seal the deal at the end of 2020.

Simon Spurrell, managing director of The Cheshire Cheese Company

It comes as many British companies struggle with post-Brexit costs – with food, drink and agricultural firms particularly badly hit by extra layers of bureaucracy on imports and exports.

British shellfish companies have said they fear a permanent post-Brexit ban on unprocessed oysters, cockles and scallops from many UK waters to EU markets in a potentially fatal blow to their businesses.

Earlier on Tuesday, a beekeeper attempting to bring 15 million bees into the UK said he had been told they may be seized and burned because of new rules.

Patrick Murfet, managing director at Bee Equipment, wants to import baby Italian bees into Kent – but has been warned they could be “destroyed” due to confusion about whether bees can be brought into Great Britain via Northern Ireland.

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