Delays at ports will prevent deliveries of alcohol reaching our pubs, bars and restaurants, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has told Imbibe.
'This will stifle businesses which rely on offering UK consumers a diverse range of drinks,' Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said.
'Wine and spirits alone are worth £10 billion to the hospitality industry in the UK. In 2015/2016 pubs sold 125 million bottles of wine, of which over 99% were imported. We must ensure that trade is not held up backlogs and gridlock,' he added.
The WSTA has today offered the Government a stark warning that if Brexit talks don’t achieve frictionless borders, delays and gridlocks at ports will encourage the resurgence of alcohol smugglers.
'The triggering of Article 50 next week has prompted concern from WSTA members who fear post-Brexit red tape will bring customs to a standstill and transform key ports and surrounding roads into lorry parks,' Beale added.
'The UK wine trade is worth £17.3 billion in economic activity. We import 1.8bn bottles of wine into Britain worth £2.8bn. The equivalent of 1bn bottles of wine come from the EU,' the WSTA said.
'The majority of wine imports arrive by boat and are transferred to lorries to be distributed across the country. On average, Dover alone handles 290 lorries per hour, carrying a range of goods, which works out at one every 12.4 seconds.'
Imports from and exports to countries from outside the European Union are subject to customs controls. Goods from the EU are free to be moved on with no extra checks, safeguarded by EU standards and the terms of the single market, according to the WSTA.
When the UK leaves the customs union, it would see more than double the volume of cargo that could be subject to inspection at British ports.
'All British ports’ operations are designed around the "just in time" principle, so there isn’t the capacity for hold ups,' Beale said.