Recent data from HMRC indicates that exports of fruit from the UK to the EU, including traditional English apples and pears, have more than halved since Brexit. The drop has been put down to the introduction of trade barriers caused by the UK’s departure from the EU, including mandatory health certificates on fresh and chilled food and customs paperwork.
In the year to 31 March 2021, the UK sold £248.5m worth of fruit to the EU. But sales figures dropped to £119m the next year and have remained at that level since, with the latest tax data showing sales for the year to March 2023 of £113.8m.
Chartered accountancy firm Hazlewoods, which analyzed the figures, blamed a number of factors, including the risk to farmers who are selling fruit, which may end up rotting if delayed by customs or phytosanitary officials in Calais and other EU ports. But they also said that, with the delays and extra cost of fruit, retailers in continental Europe were now less likely to buy from the UK and were choosing to import fruit from other countries within the bloc.