LONDON: August 18, 2016. The UK Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) says 6,000 immigrants massing at the Port of Calais trying to get into Britain is a "substantial problem" for fresh food imports from Europe according to Federation CEO Chris Sturman.
"This issue is not going away any time soon. With the threat of the end of the Le Touquet agreement and migrants looking at other opportunities to enter the UK, there is a lot of uncertainty and the industry has to adapt alongside the increasingly risky, dangerous and desperate attempts by the migrants to get onboard their vehicles," Sturman (left) declared.
The Le Touquet agreement allows Britain to place border controls at Calais rather than at Dover. Last month French and British leaders agreed to continue the arrangement for the time being, despite Brexit.
Sturman said the situation is forcing transport companies to find alternative routes to cross the Channel: "We've had members who have made the decision to stop receiving any goods through Calais – a decision they have made because of the disruption caused when vehicles arrive at their inland distribution and packing centres, and illegal immigrants are found in the backs of the vehicles."
With some migrants sitting on the food, the shipment is then rejected by the consignee to avoid contaminating the UK food chain.
"It is an ongoing process which we cannot see an end to at this point, and FSDF is working with the Home Office, UK Border Force, Food Standards Agency, Fresh Produce Consortium and other industry bodies to find solutions and avoid further UK food supply chain disruption."
Sturman added his members were very grateful for the UK Border Force efforts to find a solution to the problem and noted the UK Vehicle Accreditation Scheme would require all drivers to "hit that high standard" to be effective. He said collaboration between shippers, receivers and operators would be a key factor to help achieve this result.