Unlikely to make the front pages, but of utmost importance to those exporting to Europe is news that the UK is lacking stocks of disease-resistant pallets which will be required to trade with the EU.

The ISPM 15 Standard

Wooden pallets must be baked at 56C to ensure they meet the requirements of the ISPM 15 standard. Pallets that meet this standard are less likely to harbour disease and pests meaning they are more likely to pass export control without being quarantined.

Why this matters

The EU is treated as a single country in terms of world trade. This means that when trading within the EU it doesn’t matter if this standard is met, however, when trading outside of the EU, it very much matters. From January 1st 2020, all pallets travelling between the UK and EU will need to meet the ISPM 15 standard.

Goods transported on pallets not meeting this standard and subject to inspection at border controls may result in the palletised goods being quarantined. This of course leads to lengthy delays, added cost and in the case of fresh food, the possibility of spoiling.

There are over 3 million pallets used in trade between the UK and EU each month. Currently fewer than a third of pallets used meet the ISPM 15 standard. Efforts to produce enough pallets in time for the end of the transition period have of course been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

What is being done?

DEFRA state that “Treatment capacity for wooden pallets has increased” and that they are “…working closely with industry to help ensure a sufficient stock of compliant pallets in time for January”

However, the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation have been calling for an extension to the transition period to enable stocks of certified pallets to reach required levels. In a letter to DEFRA, the Confederations President, John Dye said “It is ever more unlikely the 1, January 2021, compliance date will be met”.

The issue comes down to a lack of, and a need for investment in, new kilns. As we are just over two months from the transition deadline, the possibility of this infrastructure being put in place in time is slim.

What next?

As a company, we are keeping up to date with all updates relating to this and every other issue surrounding Brexit. We will keep our customers informed of changes and updates from our suppliers in a timely fashion.

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