Organic veg box company Riverford has announced a two-week contingency plan that will come into place if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal on 29 March.
The company’s flagship veg boxes, which usually benefit from European imports at that time of year due to the Hungry Gap period and low availability of British produce, will remain as UK-centric as possible.
Veg likely to be in the boxes over the period include cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks and kale, as well as new season wet garlic. Other more storeable items such as sweet potato will be used to help supply.
Box contents may also change at short notice as Riverford expects some disruption to occur in the short-term over the initial two-week period.
“Should the no-deal scenario happen, Riverford is well placed in terms of supply,” said managing director, Rob Haward. “Roughly 80 per cent of the veg in our boxes is grown by us or by other organic farmers in the UK (though rather less during the Hungry Gap which usually starts in April). We will use it as an opportunity to champion traditional British produce, with recipes and inspiration to help customers appreciate the homegrown roots and greens available at this time of year.”
The news comes as today environment minister, Michael Gove, confirmed the government is expecting some delays to trade going through the busy Calais-Dover route.
Speaking at the NFU’s annual conference, the Guardian reported that Gove said: “We can expect, at least in the short term, that those delays in Calais will impede the loading of ferries, constricting supply routes back into Britain and furring up the arteries of commerce on which we all rely.”
Riverford has arranged for all of its European imports to come via the Plymouth-Roscoff ferry route to avoid the expected delays at other channel ports. The route is already used by the company due to its location in the south west, but it has expanded the amount of produce scheduled for the route during the Brexit period.
Haward added: “There could be some potential disruption ahead for Riverford customers, growers and co-owners – but we are well positioned to cope both short- and long-term. We are planning pragmatically now, to be as in control as circumstances allow.”