The Scottish red meat processing industry has lost around £7.3m since the UK left the EU at the start of this year.
The Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SMAW) stated that exports to the continent have been affected by mistakes in paperwork and varying interpretations of new rules in place since the Brexit transition period ended.
There are higher certification costs and currently no electronic tracing network, leaving the new system dependent on paperwork.
The SMAW estimates that January this year saw a decrease of 2020 volumes up to 25%. This meant that beef exports are estimated to have fallen by approximately £3m from a baseline estimate of £3.7m.
Lamb exports meanwhile, are estimated to have fallen by around £1.5m from January 2020 levels of around £2m.
In February, volume increased by 40% from last year, with beef exports estimated to have fallen by £1.8m from February 2020, which had a baseline level of £3m.
Lamb exports are estimated to have fallen by £1.1m from February 2020 levels of around £1.8m.
Martin Morgan, executive manager of SMAW, said: “Combine January and February, then you have an estimated reduction in beef exports of around £4.7m and lamb exports of £2.6m, amounting to £7.3m of lost business overall for Scottish red meat processors.
“The fall in export volumes immediately after the UK’s exit was very much in line with our expectations as member businesses adapted to the extra level of paperwork and the associated increased in overhead costs.
“Hopefully the slight increase we have experienced during February will accelerate in the months ahead, or we risk losing valuable and hard won business in mainland Europe.”
Morgan also explained that some of the products originally processed in Scotland would be transferred internally to a sister plan in England for bulking up before being exported to EU customers.
This comes after the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) member survey revealed that they expected additional trading costs each year of between £90m to £120m, with most companies expecting a permanent loss of at least 20% of their total business experts – while some expected it to be as high as 50%.
The EU accounts for most of UK meat sold overseas. Global exports reached £2.1bn in 2019, with imports of £6.6bn.
Nick Allen, chief executive at the BMPA, said that one large UK meat processor faced £3m of extra annual transport and certification costs after previously making around £10m a year in profits.
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