Professionals holding procurement jobs in the UK’s dairy industry, from full-time employees to supply chain interims, are facing a potential nightmare scenario of significantly restricted choice in the dairy product market. A new study of the post-Brexit landscape from the London School of Economics, entitled The Impact of Brexit on the UK Dairy Sector, has forecast spiralling prices and lower food standards.

Pan-European dairy cooperative Arla Foods warns that the LSE’s projections about the impact of possible non-tariff barriers to trade and restricted access to EU labour could result in butter, yoghurts and cheese becoming luxury items.

Although the Government’s White Paper on Britain’s post-Brexit EU relationship contains measures to minimise trade frictions, they are yet to be agreed with the EU.

Should trade restrictions and labour shortages ensue, the LSE study anticipates greater delays in transportation arising from customs inspections from UK ports. This is likely to create further expenses, approximately £111 per container, increasing delays and the potential collapse of the system. This is because Britain’s new Customs Declaration Service, set up to manage just 150 million declarations per annum, will be required to process 250 million after Brexit.

Ash Amirahmadi, MD of Arla Food UK, said that the 11,400 farmers who collectively own the Arla cooperative are already balancing the need to keep consumer prices low with the need to maintain high standards across the board.

He added: “There’s no margin to play with here in the value chain. Any disruption means that if we don’t get the practicalities of Brexit right we will face a choice between shortages, extra costs that will inevitably have to be passed on to the consumer or undermining the world-class standards we have worked so hard to achieve.”

Amirahmadi called on both sides of the negotiation to address the pragmatics of Brexit sensibly and permit frictionless customs arrangements. With this in mind, organisations in the dairy industry will need employees that can help to future-proof their operations. When hiring for supply chain jobs at any level, managers must look for candidates with a broad spectrum of skills. Prospective procurement employees need to be innovative and well-informed to facilitate procedures as smoothly as possible to reduce any friction in the wake of Brexit.

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