In a letter to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, Supermarket chiefs have called for ‘urgent intervention’ to prevent further disruption to Northern Ireland food supplies.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Co-Op and Marks & Spencer have teamed up to highlight the shortages of certain products in Northern Ireland retailers following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The letter read: “We accept clear progress needs to be made by 1/4/21 and are happy to discuss our issues and solutions directly with EU officials,” the BBC reported them as saying.
“However, until then we need an assurance that the current process based on a trusted trader scheme… doesn’t change until a workable replacement is agreed.”
“A new dedicated team in Government has already been set up and will be working with supermarkets, the food industry and the Northern Ireland Executive to develop ways to streamline the movement of goods in accordance with the protocol.”
A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s added: “A small number of our products are temporarily unavailable for our customers in Northern Ireland while border arrangements are confirmed.
“We were prepared for this and so our customers will find a wide range of alternative products in our stores in the meantime and we are working hard to get back to our full, usual range soon.”
Supermarkets have been given a three-month ‘grace period’ from new EU checks in order to avoid disruption to supplies moving from Britain to Northern Ireland after the Brexit deadline, and Government officials claim this system is working well saying: “The grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers is working well, goods continue to flow effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and we are working intensively with industry as new requirements come in.”
A Government spokesperson added: “A new dedicated team in Government has already been set up and will be working with supermarkets, the food industry and the Northern Ireland Executive to develop ways to streamline the movement of goods in accordance with the protocol.”