The UK government has announced that safety and security checks on EU produce at UK borders will not be required until July 1, 2022.

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Frost, said:

"We want businesses to focus on their recovery from the pandemic rather than have to deal with new requirements at the border, which is why we’ve set out a pragmatic new timetable for introducing full border controls.

"Businesses will now have more time to prepare for these controls which will be phased in throughout 2022.

"The government remains on track to deliver the new systems, infrastructure and resourcing required."

'The lateness of this substantial change'

Ian Wright CBE, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation, said:

“Many food and drink manufacturers will be dismayed by the lateness of this substantial change.

"Businesses have invested very significant time and money in preparing for the new import regime on October 1, 2021.

"Now, with just 17 days to go, the rug has been pulled.

"This move penalises those who followed government advice and rewards those who ignored it.

"As recently as yesterday, officials assured us that import checks would be implemented as planned.

“The repeated failure to implement full UK border controls on EU imports since January 2021 undermines trust and confidence among businesses. Worse, it actually helps the UK’s competitors.

"The asymmetric nature of border controls facing exports and imports distorts the market and places many UK producers at a competitive disadvantage with EU producers.

“We welcome the government’s acknowledgement that supply chains are under extreme pressure but this is to a large extent caused by labour and skills shortages in every part of the food chain.

"The government must put in place financial support to help prepare for these new deadlines of import controls – industry has invested three times in preparing, only to have wasted this money despite assurances from the government there would be no delay.”