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21st January 2021, 21:13

Teething problems bringing food products from the UK to the Rock since Brexit, but no issues with goods from Spain. GBC speaks to local supermarkets.

Published by GBC News

Morrisons UK says disruption to its supply chain to Gibraltar is due to delays in Calais and the land and sea border between Spain and Gibraltar, but that the situation is expected to make progress.

Eroski says that whilst it is experiencing similar issues with its Waitrose line of products, it hasn’t had any problems bringing its Spanish range of products to Gibraltar.

And it’s not just these supermarkets that have experienced some change to their operations since the end of the Brexittransition period.

Despite little insight into how it would affect them prior to the New Year’s Eve in-principle agreement, local supermarkets have been anticipating Brexit for a long time. 

Health certificates now required

Since the 1st January products of animal origin brought into the EU require health certificates signed off by an official veterinarian of the exporting third country. This, coupled with Spain's worst snowstorm in 50 years, caused substantial delays to food products at the start of the year.

Eroski says it’s now receiving the same number of truck deliveries from Spain as usual: however, it is yet to receive a UK Waitrose delivery this year. The supermarket’s Director Daniel Massias told GBC that “bringing UK goods to Gibraltar by land is becoming a nightmare". 

With the help of Waitrose UK, he says they’re trying to gather all the documents needed before sending out any deliveries.He explains the hold-up is in France, because even items such as biscuits may have animal origins and require substantial documentation, adding that as there will often be 100 different items in a single food delivery truck, and sourcing documentation for so much of this is proving difficult.

Eroski says it's hoping to have its first Waitrose delivery by the 2nd February but is looking at alternative methods going forward. Morrisons' stock is largely from the UK. Over the last couple of weeks images of some empty shelves have surfaced. 

Morrisons UK told GBC it’s currently experiencing some delays and disruption in the supply chain from the UK to Gibraltar which is affecting in store availability. It describes the new rules as significantly more complex and says delays are in Calais and at the land and sea border between Spain and Gibraltar. As a result it’s using the newly introduced Ferry service in Algeciras for goods that would have previously gone across the land border. 

But, it says there has been good progress made: Monday this week saw the largest shipment of certified goods to the Gibraltar store since new rules came into force. 

Recently opened The Food Co. which stocks Tesco products has had similar issues. In a statement last week, it said it has 15 trucks at various ports in France and Spain waiting to clear through customs. Once they’re cleared stores will be full again within 48 hours.It says that for now short life chilled products (anything with less than 10 days life) will be unavailable until it's confident it can get trucks straight through port.

The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed

Legislation* has been proposed to the UK Government's Food Department (DEFRA), asking for, amongst other things, a prioritisation of Gibraltar-bound groceries. In a document that proposes this, it says 50% of the Rock’s food supply comes from the UK. The scheme, if it goes ahead, would give the Secretary of State powers to issue Prioritised Goods permits to vehicles carrying full grocery loads destined for Gibraltar. It would be an emergency measure only to be used in cases where there are significant border delays and food supply is reduced. But DEFRA has not approved this at present.

Not all local supermarkets have been affected so far, however.

Coviran Supermarket told GBC it sources all products from Spain or locally and that there’s been no change to supply since Brexit.

Risso’s Daily says it hasn’t had any issues but that it stocked up on UK food products prior to Brexit and it's looking at alternatives to the land route to bring these over in future. 

Ramson's says it hasn't had issues with what it sources locally, but is yet to receive a UK delivery this year. 

The Express stores also report no issues.

Marks & Spencer’s food section has been unaffected by Brexit, its store manager Chris Walker told GBC. The UK chain’s Gibraltar branch doesn’t anticipate any shortages despite the new measures. Mr Walker says this is largely due to the fact the majority of its range is long life ambient and frozen so M&S Gibraltar has been able to stockpile in advance of the expected issues. The store’s Percy Pig sweets made headlines at the start of this year, as Brexit meant they could attract tariffs within the EU, but Gibraltar’s stock is unaffected.

So it’s not all bad news: but it does seem like despite Britain and Gibraltar leaving the EU together, getting goods from the UK to Gibraltar, has brought it’s teething problems.

*Editor's note: This article was amended on 35.01.21. An earlier version of this article said that the British Freight Association had proposed legislation to the UK Government, however GBC understands that this is a UK Government document that was posted on BIFA's website.