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Wonky bananas were an urban myth, but wrong sort of pallets is real Brexit worry

By Chris Dawson February 28, 2019 - 2:35 pm

Apparently there’s a shortage of pallets for shipping goods which is going to cause problems in a post Brexit world. The problem is that the EU have strict rules on pallets shipped from outside the EU which pallets within the EU don’t have to abide by.

It’s not that the UK has suddenly lost all of their shipping pallets, it’s that they don’t conform to heat treatment and cleaning standards and don’t have the requisite EU markings to show that they comply.

EU requirements for Pallets

If you are interested, all wood packaging material and dunnage from non-EU countries must be:

  • Either heat treated or fumigated in line with ISPM15 procedures;
  • Officially marked with the ISPM15 stamp consisting of 3 codes (country, producer and measure applied) and the IPPC logo;
  • debarked

These requirements do not apply to:

  • Wood 6mm thick or less;
  • Wood packaging material made entirely from processed wood produced using glue, heat and pressure e.g. plywood, oriented strand board and veneer;
  • Wood packaging material used in trade within the EU

Note the last point – if wooden pallets are for trade within the EU then you don’t have to worry about the regulation, but post Brexit we won’t be within the EU and the regulation will apply to all wooden pallets shipped from the UK to the EU.

Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is holding emergency meetings to discuss the issue. The plain facts are however that it’s going to be a problem. Even if you typically use a courier for individual shipments, those who are shipping pallets of goods into Amazon FBA’s EU fulfilment centres could discover their shipments are rejected because they are on the wrong type of pallet. You’ll no longer be able to assume that because your incoming goods were on pallets that you can grab any from your pallet pile and they are good to ship to Amazon FBA or any other destination within the EU.

Frankly, this is an absurd situation but it’s they type of minutiae that demonstrates just how ill prepared we are for Brexit and who knows what other issues will come to light? Forget the big broad strokes of home government, VAT, Import and Export Duties and the like – if something as mundane as a pallet can stop trade with the EU, what else has been overlooked that will also present a barrier to trade?

It’s worth noting that a huge variety of products include wooden packaging – anyone who’s purchased a new washing machine, fridge, freezer or almost any white goods will almost certainly have discovered that the packaging included wooden slats. The EU rules don’t only apply to pallets, although pallets ae the headline grabbing news.

This does once again suggest that getting as much of your stock into EU warehouses ahead of Brexit makes a lot of sense – at least enough stock to fulfil your EU orders for a couple of months. We’re moving into a world that’s so uncertain even the most stupid of events could put the brakes on your business if you’re not prepared.

  • Michael
    3 months ago

    Surely the UK after leaving then has standards for pallets and the EU pallets will not be allowed to be sent to the UK… The EU will then be in the same boat and they can mutually agree to stop being dick heads.

    • 3 months ago

      Thank goodness that our saviours, the USA, don’t have regulations regarding wooden pallets, and that they won’t insist on us accepting their goods, but no accepting ours.

      Oh, it doesn’t look pretty.

      Still, I can probably eat my blue passport.

  • 3 months ago

    If there is a surplus of pallets here, I can just leave a couple outside the warehouse and someone will have them away in a day or so, unless that is they’re the plywood pallets. No one wants them.

    The plywood pallets are the ones that our LCL imports from China come on, to comply with the pallet rEUles. They’re always brand new, but about as rugged as a lettuce. At least one block will be missing underneath somewhere, causing a sag in the middle, or a corner collapsing under the weight of the cartons above. Compared with wooden pallets, they’re very poor quality and mostly single use. You’d be very lucky to use one again, which is why the pallet fairies won’t take them away.

    If the EU won’t accept post Brexit goods from the UK on the same good quality wooden pallets they’ve been used to, they can have them on these crappy plywood ones instead and enjoy unloading them by hand from the back of a lorry once they’ve split down the middle and won’t allow a forklift trucks forks to get underneath and lift them off.

  • Toby
    3 months ago

    Absolute madness…. have to be treated to set standard if from outside the eu… but not inside. This would suggest that they are worried about disease etc carrying over in them. Well, firstly once they are heat treated that fails to stop any future infection so pointless, and secondly…. there are enough diseases going around in Europe that can travel on wood to worry about anyway. I used to work in the commerical nursery trade and i can honestly say that the plant passport system is as amuch use a wet tissue, hence we have so many devestating plant diseases from the eu over here. I have been to dutch growers and seen it!
    It is precisely this kind of nonsense that causes the sort of anti eu retoric we hear. It is a unnecessary and frankly absurd idea and does nothing but creates a few extra unneeded jobs that we are paying for.
    I fail to see how in the all the efforts to make movement of trade globally easier how this helps? I am not aware of any other country or region that requires this.
    Hate to say it, but despite the short term pain…. there is going to be some long term gain and the sooner we go the better. ( and im an imported and exporter so no the difficulties ahead.

  • Mark
    3 months ago

    That an easy problem to solve.
    In response we tell them all pallets coming from the EU into the UK must conform to a new set of rules stating they have to be resin coated in green and white striped resin and then plastic coated.

    With a metal badge stating its origin for the wood beneath and the factory where it was coated and the persons name that packed it.

    Then we negotiate with them that we will remove EU countries from that new required rule if they lift the rule on our pallets.

    Simple

    as with all this Brexit stuff they just keep telling us what we will suffer with and not what the poorer countries in the EU will suffer if we are not taking their goods.

    • 3 months ago

      Hmmm, it still appears to some people that a market of 500m people still needs a market of 60m more than the other way around. It is amazing how people still fall for this foolishness. Perhaps they’ll only notice when they have a 4-hour queue to see the empty shelves at Tesco.

  • Dave
    3 months ago

    It is pretty staggering how incompetent our government has been. These rules are all written down for everyone to see (since the mid-1990’s for the pallets), so it was always going to be this way if we end up leaving without a deal.

    It is we, the UK who have brought this upon ourselves – none of it is the EU’s doing.

    Them’s just the rules, and we shouldn’t be surprised by it.

    But blue passports…….

  • Daniel
    3 months ago

    The regulations concerning bananas were introduced in 1995 but have since been repealed:

    ‘A. Minimum requirements’

    ‘free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers’

    https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1994R2257:20060217:EN:PDF

  • Mark
    3 months ago

    Empty shelves at tesco what rubbish who hurts the most.
    No tomatoes from spain i can eat something else. But can the spanish growers whe export 82% of their crop here find someone else to take it or will 16,000 spaniards be on the dole where 1 in 3 under the age of 24 are already unemployed. Orange squash the types of oranges are grown in a region of Spain the size of wales and 92% is exported to the UK oops looks like another 11,000 on the dole.
    I will drink something else.
    Everyone is talking like their was no life before the EU.
    we may have a few weeks of struggle but when the other countries start to try and pay the dole quese they will start to come for a trade deal.

    19% of money in EU is from Germany
    16.6% is french
    13,45% is ours
    1,5% italy
    8.5% spain
    4% Belgium
    3% Dutch
    3% Poland

    then it just keeps dropping to 1% and lower for the remaining 20

    that is one big hole to fill from the other haha!!!!! who is worried.
    they will be Germany cannot afford to pay even more to prop up a system.

    • Sebastian
      3 months ago

      Love it when people throw around random numbers to make a point. Makes your argument so much more believable. Spain, one of the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producers exports 82% of their crop to the UK? Really?

      I usually don’t get involved in discussions like that. Your arguments would be much better, if you could back them up with actual real figures without having to make them up as you go along. This took me 5 minutes to check, I can’t be bothered to spend more time on this, but I am sure I can pick holes in your other arguments as well.

      The UK accounted for 13% of Spain’s fruit & vegetable exports in 2016. Spain’s most important export market was Germany with 26% followed by France with 18%: https://www.freshplaza.com/article/2185412/spain-is-the-number-one-exporter-of-fresh-fruit-and-vegetables-globally/

      Spain was responsible for 32% of all vegetable and 20% of all fruit imports INTO the UK in 2014: http://www.fruitnet.com/eurofruit/article/170246/data-spains-share-of-the-uk-produce-market

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