Congestion around Dover has led to delays of up to 25 hours, threatening the quality of products with a short shelf life.
BMPA chief executive Nick Allen said: “We are getting reports from BMPA members who have had lorries carrying fresh meat stranded for one-to-two days and possibly longer due to the current problems. They are furious that there doesn’t seem to be any process in place to prioritise fresh produce.
“When delays like this happen the product’s shelf life, and its value, is reduced. Also, in our ‘just-in-time’ food supply chain, this kind of failure to supply means that we start to lose EU customers, who turn to other countries to provide a more reliable supply of product.”
The BMPA has been told that the disruption was expected to extend well into next week, clashing with the very busy Easter period – especially for the export of fresh meat.
Allen described the chaos caused by the P&O situation, bad weather, the Easter vacation and the crucial Border IT system failure this weekend had created a perfect storm at Dover.
“Lorry drivers are complaining that the communication is really poor and that no one on the ground seems to know what is happening. These drivers are running out of food and water, and access to facilities is poor,” he continued.
No word from ministers
“We have been in touch with Defra but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any sign of any prioritisation for fresh produce being put in place. We need the authorities to review the situation as a matter of urgency and take appropriate action to keep the flow of perishable food moving.”