Sunday evening, December 20, France announced the ban on any arrival of people from Great Britain for 48 hours, ” including for the transport of goods, by road, air, sea or rail. A decision taken, like a dozen other countries, to prevent the spread of a new strain of Covid-19.
→ CONTEXT. Covid-19 pandemic: the United Kingdom under blockade
While the European Commission recommends the resumption of traffic at the port of Dover in England, the main outlet for British products to Europe, lines of trucks are still lining up in the car parks. Since Sunday, only ferries provide transport between the two sides of the Channel. The goods are transported there in trailers without driver. This reduction in traffic causes delays in the movement of goods.
Langoustines, scallops and Scottish salmon
Among the shipments are fresh seafood and fish waiting to be shipped to the ports of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais. A few days before Christmas, the period is crucial for the industry. In December 2019, 7.5 tonnes of seafood were exported to France for a total value of 68 million euros, according to the British association Seafish.
Langoustines, scallops and Scottish salmon must arrive on the tables in good time and in numbers for New Year’s Eve. ” This blockage came at the worst time », Laments Aymeric Chrzan, general secretary of the Boulonnais fishmongers’ union.
Covid-19: Europeans stranded after the suspension of links with the United Kingdom
At Boulogne-sur-Mer, Europe’s leading seafood processing center, 60,000 tonnes of raw material are imported from the United Kingdom each year for processing. For this sector which works just in time, delivery delays are dramatic. ” The products that were to be delivered yesterday, had to be processed and shipped during the day. It’s a day of work that we won’t catch up », Emphasizes Aymeric Chrzan.
This delay could have repercussions on the entire distribution chain. Asked this morning about BFM Business, Super U CEO Dominique Schelcher warned about the risks of a shortage of seafood on French stalls: “There are live langoustines, scallops, monkfish tails, for example, which are stuck in the trucks and which we may not have for the holidays. “
Same story with the Rungis market: “Certain fresh products could be scarce on the market due to a lack of supply, in particular after Christmas, such as scallops, blue lobsters, Scottish salmon …”
“ It’s difficult to say now, I think in any case that we risk being out much more quickly than in previous years “, says Aymeric Chrzan. The more so as the lack of British products can hardly be compensated with French products. Indeed, the French consume more seafood than they produce during the holidays. “ During these periods of strong demand, we are obliged to call on products from neighboring countries. In addition, you should know that our British neighbors are not very fond of these holiday products ”, explains Aymeric Chrzan.
This blockage comes as the United Kingdom and the European Union have only a few days left to try to find a trade agreement before the entry into force of Brexit. “It was like an exercise. it allows everyone to realize the issues. It’s complicated for us because we have need British products, but perhaps even more for them who are dependent on this outlet ”, concludes Aymeric Chrzan.