With Brexit hanging over the UK like a nasty smog, retailers are tallying up the challenges they are likely to face this time next year. Joe Hebblewhite from red pallet pooling experts LPR, looks at the road ahead for fresh produce in particular, and offers advice on how to keep things moving.

Uncertainty over what the Brexit deal will bring, or whether there will even be a deal, makes it difficult for retail businesses to plan beyond 2018. Whatever happens, it looks like the route from field to supermarket shelves may be a bumpy one, but LPR – La Palette Rouge – will be doing its best to ensure the produce aisle doesn’t look limp.

Brexit’s challenges

By definition, fresh produce is a commodity that doesn’t respond well to delays in transport. Its buyers are also very sensitive to price increases, so anything that adds to the cost can be damaging to business. As the recent courgette crisis demonstrated, customers take lack of availability very seriously.

Around 30% of Britain’s food is imported from EU countries. Fruit and veg alone account for over £10 billion of Britain’s imports annually. Retailers must consider Brexit’s impact on both import and export, as these will undoubtedly have a knockon effect on the supply chain.

Stricter border controls, checks and administration in both directions, could add significant time, complication and expense. The Port of Dover warns that a twominute delay per lorry could create a 17-mile tailback. Then there’s the possibility of extra duties, taxes and tariffs.

For the logistics providers on which retailers rely, additional issues may include new trading routes, higher fuel prices, changes in driver licensing and a shortage of drivers. There’s also the potential requirement to comply with two differing sets of legislation.

Ultimately, an extra cost for retailers and their customers.

Efficient cross-border solutions

LPR, (as part of Euro Pool Group), is a major pan-European player in the logistics industry and therefore well placed to help. Founded and headquartered in France, and with subsidiaries in eight European countries, including the UK and Ireland – it is Europe’s largest provider of reusable standard packaging.

LPR supplies its distinctive red pallets and related services as a fully outsourced solution to supply chain partners including producers, distributors, processors and retailers. It tracks pallet flows and, through a Europe-wide network of 108 depots, arranges collection of empty pallets from 28,000 drop-off points in 11 countries.

LPR’s relationships with supply chain stakeholders and organisations across Europe, and its understanding of border procedures, should prove invaluable as Brexit’s implementation unfolds.

Cutting costs through greater efficiencies will be more important than ever. Maximising efficiency and simplifying administration for its customers is LPR’s raison d’être. To monitor the movement of more than 83 million pallets each year, LPR uses a unique Europe-wide IT system which customers and providers can access via a web interface. This level of visibility will be vital in streamlining the flow of produce in the face of potentially slower border-crossing processes.

Each customer’s needs and circumstances are different, and LPR’s experienced, professional teams pride themselves on creating innovative, flexible, tailor-made solutions. They relish the challenge of helping businesses to overcome new obstacles and difficulties arising from Brexit.

A sustainable future

Businesses can take comfort from LPR’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.These policies were awarded a gold rating by EcoVadis, which assesses the sustainability of global supply chains. It was also the first pallet-pooling company to be certified by PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), guaranteeing all its pallets are made from sustainably managed woodlands within the EU. A full inspection and repair service extends the life of each pallet, after which it is recycled.

Importantly, the water-based red paint, anti-mould treatment and all other chemicals used to treat pallets, comply with current regulations – particularly those relating to the food industry.

Wooden pallets have been identified as the most environmentally sustainable solution, and the efficiency of palletpooling results in around half of the carbon emissions of any other pallet management system.

LPR’s continuing work with partners to reduce the fuel consumption and carbon footprint of transport systems will surely help further in reducing costs and improving sustainability in the post- Brexit world.

LPR

www.lpr.eu