Vegan British confectionery to escape Brexit controls

AFP – Since Brexit, the British confectionery company Pecan Deluxe has been subjected to countless red tape, especially for its products with ingredients of animal origin, such as milk and eggs. To escape them, those responsible found a solution: make it vegan.

One of the biggest problems after Brexit was the application of customs controls (…) which caused many difficulties, some products were returned to us or had to be destroyed”, explains Graham Kingston, general manager of Pecan Deluxe Candy Europe, to AFP.

This family business, originally from the United States and with a European factory in Sherburn In Elmet, in the north of England, produces products to decorate or enrich cakes and desserts: coulis, pralines, chocolate chips, cookies, colored sugar noodles, etc. .

  • Before, 84% of its production in Europe was destined for export outside the United Kingdom. But this fell after the effective exit of the European Union (EU).

Although Brexit officially took place on January 31, 2020, the UK did not effectively leave the single market and the European customs union until 11 months later. The EU then imposed controls on its animal products to ensure that they met European standards.

  • Kingston laments the myriad hardships entrepreneurs have since faced “without any help from the government.”

In response, the company decided to avoid multiple veterinary checks and paperwork by reformulating its recipes to make them completely vegan, substituting egg-derived or dairy-derived ingredients with plant-based equivalents.

In addition, this range of products with ingredients of plant origin “offers other advantages, such as lower prices, and allows us to follow current trends such as veganism,” he adds.

Health certificates and other documentation required at the border have cost us more than £100,000 ($125,000) in recent years. The changes we have made have greatly reduced these costs”, he assures.

Consequences of Brexit in the industries was cataloged as “Immense damage”

To facilitate procedures, Pecan Deluxe also decided to make the French port of Calais, on the English Channel, the sole point of entry for its products into the EU, so that customs clearance and veterinary inspections can be done in one same place.

  • This confectionery is by no means the only British company affected by the multiple consequences of Brexit.

Many sectors suffer from severe labor shortages: There are currently around 300,000 fewer European workers in the UK than before Brexit and their absence cannot be covered by hiring non-EU workers.

And not all companies have found a way around the negative consequences like Pecan Deluxe.

For example, the high-speed train company Eurostar, which links Great Britain to the European continent through the tunnel under the English Channel, ensures that immigration and customs controls are so congested that the trains are not filled to capacity in peak hours.

  • The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, of the opposition Labor Party, asked conservative leaders a few days ago to recognize the “immense damage” caused by a Brexit that, he said, “does not work”.

Support for Brexit has never been lower across the UK: less than a third of Britons believe it was the right decision, according to a November survey by the YouGov institute.

But at the moment there is no question, neither in the Labor camp nor in the Conservative camp, reversing the trend after years of arduous negotiations that deeply divided the country.

  • So Pecan Deluxe is making the best of a bad situation and plans to double its turnover in five years.

And while he dreams of an unlikely return to the EU, Kingston believes that if the British government gave more information to companies, which are forced to pay for expensive training to adapt, “it would already help a lot.”

© Agence France-Presse