No-deal Brexit preparations: impact on food, drink and other key sectors

Are you prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit on 1 January 2021, or for whatever trade terms may ultimately be negotiated between the UK and the EU?

Some of the potential impacts are well understood, others less so. The operational and logistical challenges for transport, especially of perishable foodstuffs or live animals, are significant. Concerns have been expressed about possible delays in processing and the adequacy of capacity in EU Border Control Posts designated for the purpose.

Legal structures needed for food business operators (FBOs) in the event of no deal

  • Under EU food law, it will not be possible to rely on existing import arrangements into the EU.
  • UK FBOs will need to designate an EU FBO, i.e. one established in the EU that will be responsible for compliance with EU food law.
  • Such an FBO will be responsible for all aspects of food law including product safety and labelling.
  • This is separate from any requirements of EU customs for first importation into the EU for which an EU-EORI number will be required, held by an EU established entity.
  • In other sectors, such as cosmetics, similar provisions apply.  

How we can help you navigate a no deal scenario

Shepherd and Wedderburn is the leading independent Scottish-headquartered UK law firm, with a dedicated Brexit Advisers Group and sectoral experts in food, drink, life sciences and other sectors likely to be directly affected by no deal.

We have assisted various Scottish food, drink and cosmetics companies with their transition planning, including:

  • setting up corporate structures for EU FBOs/sector equivalents;
  • documenting internal supply chains;
  • advising on risk mitigation and compliance implications; and
  • liaising with overseas registration agents.

Time is running out…

If you have not yet established an EU FBO, there may still be time to do so. There is no guarantee that any deal will allow “grandfathering” of existing processes, and individual EU member states may adopt different approaches to enforcement, regardless of the terms which may be agreed at pan-EU27 level.

For further information, contact George Frier (, Joanna Boag-Thomson (, or visit our Brexit Advisers page.

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