What will happen to the pet food industry after Brexit?

Chlorinated chicken: What will happen to your pet’s food after Brexit?

Monday, November 19, 2018

In recent months, pet owners have been warned of the impact of leaving the European Union on their animals, particularly in the case of travel.

In November, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has told pet owners to consult their vets if they intend to travel with their pets after Brexit.

There are currently no checks on pets travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but pets should have passports.

 

 

A DEFRA spokesperson said: "This is about planning ahead to ensure their pet has the correct health protection documented and in place for all possible scenarios.

"DEFRA has recently been in contact with Northern Ireland vets to highlight this issue."

But what about will the impact be to other aspects of our pet’s lives? What will happen to your pet’s favourite food? And, what deal is best man’s best friend?

Michael Bellingham, the Chief Executive of Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, answers some common questions.

 

Could Brexit affect the price of our pet's food?

“If you said that any pet food product could come in regardless of its safety and quality then we would not be able to compete, because the cost of us using the agricultural products in the UK is significantly higher.

“That is because of our standards and animal welfare, which we require and are asked for by our consumers.

“If that was done away with and people said that you could take whatever you wanted from the rest of the world, then that would have a hugely damaging impact on ourselves and domestic agriculture.

“We take 80% of our raw materials from the UK’s farming sector and they are very reliant on us doing that. So, it would be damaging to agriculture and ourselves.”

 

How will Brexit affect the quality of British pet food?

"It is about where we want to be as a global player in the future. Currently we have rules in the EU that dictate what materials we can use, how we manufacture and how safe it is. Those are some of the highest standards in the world.

“If we were to mirror those and keep those and so we keep the high animal welfare standards that we have, or even improve them then that would be a really good outcome.

“My concern is that there is this big debate within Government and the Conservative Party about future trading and debates about having chlorinated chicken. We can’t use those materials and we don’t want to. Our consumers don’t want to. If we leave the EU and then there is a race to the bottom then that would have a hugely damaging impact on the sector.”

 

How would friction at the borders affect pet food supplies?

“The vast majority of our members either export the finished project into the EU or import raw materials so having the ease at the moment of just putting a product on a lorry and off it goes and ends up in Bulgaria.

“There is no paperwork and no stopping at borders. Anything that adds cost to that will obviously have a big impact on them being able to do that.

“That is a major concern but clearly the intention is to have an agreement where those sorts of customs declarations and all the areas that provide friction are done away with. Clearly that would be a huge relief to our members, but at the moment it is us trying to understand where we are heading and obviously so is everyone else.

 

 

“So, it is very difficult to advise my members on what they should be preparing for. We are saying to do get ready for every eventuality because we don’t know at the moment where this is heading. 

“Our members in Northern Ireland take materials from the Republic and transform it into their product, and then send it back across the border. Currently, that has no cost."

 

What opportunities do new global markets bring?

“If we are looking to be a global player and expand our markets, and if the Government puts the right support into doing it, then we can hugely benefit from that.

“For our members, when 80% of their product is exported to the EU replacing all of that with other parts of the world is not feasible because of the geography of that.

“But, if we can keep that open to the EU but also add new markets then yes. France and Germany export $1.4 billion of pet food, we export $400 million. So we have a tremendous opportunity to grow whether we stay in the EU or not.”

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