United Kingdom

Boss of UK pet food producer exposes post-Brexit red tape

The boss behind a multi-million pound pet food business says Brexit red tape could cost his firm an extra £100,000 a year. 

Symply Pet Foods CEO James Milbourne posted an image online showing 72 pages of documents that need to completed in order to send an order to one customer in the EU. 

Mr Milbourne said he now also has to pay an additional £100,000 a year in veterinary inspection fees. 

Mr Milbourne's father Eddie founded the Symply Group in 2009 and turnover for the Buckinghamshire-based company is now around £35 million. 

His natural pet food Canagan is exported to more than 30 countries and customers include the president of Ireland and the Queen, who reportedly gave the grain-free food to her beloved corgis.   

Symply Pet Foods CEO James Milbourne posted an image online showing 72 pages of documents that need to be completed in order to send an order to one customer in the EU

Eddie Milbourne (right, with son James), founded the Symply Group in 2009 and turnover for the Buckinghamshire-based company is now around £35 million

The firm won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2017. 

Mr Milbourne, who was appointed trainee CEO of the firm by his father in 2016, said that before Brexit, the company was not required to fill out documentation.  

But yesterday he revealed the huge amount of work needed for orders to countries in the EU. 

Sharing the images onto Twitter yesterday, Mr Milbourne wrote: 'This is the paperwork required to send one order to the EU now. Previously zero. 

'£100k / year of Veterinary inspection fees now, previously £0.

'Very annoying/ costly for an established business like us, crippling for a small company!'

Mr Milbourne, who was appointed trainee CEO of the firm by his father in 2016, revealed the huge amount of work needed for orders to countries in the EU

He added he had emailed MP Greg Hands but 'received no response.'

After the tweet amassed more than 13,000 likes on social media, the Chelsea and Fulham MP replied: 'I checked back and we have responded. But more to the point, looking forward, am happy to meet on Zoom to see how I can help.' 

The UK pet food industry is valued at £3billion and in 2019 exported some £285 million of food to the EU. 

But the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA), has 'raised alarm bells' about the 'severe' difficulty of exporting to the EU in the wake of the Brexit deal. 

The PFMA said that in a survey of its members, only one third of businesses that had attempted exports to the EU had been successful. 

Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive, said: 'We have come against red tape, vet shortages and hauliers refusing to accept animal-based products in case they are stopped at the border. 

'Many official veterinarians are unwilling to take on the extra work of certifying animal by-product consignments because they were not confident about what was required.' 

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