Pork Still Traded Between EU and UK Despite Brexit Uncertainties: Labor Has Become the Most Pressing Issue

It was clear long before the UK actually cut ties with the EU that disruptions to trade and of labor supply could not be completely prevented after Brexit, and that the industry would need some time to get used to the new customs checks and paperwork. Brexit, however, did not take place in a vacuum – a number of unforeseen events aggravated the impact on the pork market.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a major factor that exacerbated the expected labor shortage issues in slaughter plants and logistics. It caused a backlog of pigs destined for abattoirs left stranded on farms, and delays in trade and distribution. The effects of this are still being felt in the industry. Meanwhile, the changing dynamics of global trade have led to an oversupply in the European pork market, which, together with cost-side inflationary pressures on costs, are squeezing farmers’ and processors’ margins and creating additional pressure in the supply chain, both in the EU and in the UK.

Although, it’s been a year since Brexit took full effect, some of the impact is yet to come. In the coming years, trade relations between the EU and the UK will continue to evolve and new relations will likely be established between the UK and other third countries. Despite rising transaction costs, pork trade between the EU and the UK is expected to continue in the future, based on long-standing mutually beneficial trade relations.