Empty shelves… Brexit delivery issues persisting

WHILE it is nowhere near as bad as it could have been without a deal being reached, the realities of Brexit are continuing to bite in Fermanagh this week.
As reported in the Herald last week, since Brexit became a reality on January 1 both businesses and residents here in the county have been experiencing difficulties getting deliveries from Britain. This is a result of the Irish Protocol, the agreement that the North continues to follow EU trade and customs rules in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
As a result, increased administration and documentation is needed for goods coming from Britain to the North, leading to the delays.
Since last week the issues have become even clearer.
Numerous readers have been in touch to report issues in being unable to get deliveries from online outlets at all, or are facing exorbitant delivery charges.
Meanwhile, empty shelves have been seen in many local supermarkets. Fresh fruit and vegetables are among the most problematic products, with the delays at the ports resulting in some of the food becoming over ripe or even spoiling before it even arrives.
However, while the larger outlets appear to be getting hit the hardest by the hold ups, the smaller locally owned shops have reported fewer issues, as they rely more on local suppliers.
Shane Stewart from Stewart’s Butchers said they had escaped the worst of it as around 95 percent of their stock is locally sourced. He has noted some issues, though, as they import some speciality products.
“We have a speciality food supplier based in England that we’ve been dealing with for years, and basically it’s nearly impossible now,” he said.
“Everything has to be palletised, there’s no such thing as sending it with a courier any more, because they don’t have the customs checks in place. They’re not prepared to send over something over that is a pallet load, which is far too much for a small business like ours.”
Mr Stewart also reported some other issues in dealing with companies in Britain.

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