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With Brexit, ISPM15 and Covid-19 – 2020 will have been one hell of a year, writes Diane Carroll, Commercial Director at pallet pooling expert LPR.

Diane Carroll, Commercial Director at pallet pooling expert LPR.

By themselves each one of these issues is a complex, multi-faceted issue which will impact many and be understood by few, but combined they’re enough to blow the average Supply Chain leader’s mind – so, let’s break them down:

Brexit – the UK has left the European Union, and once the transition period has ended on 1 January 2021, the UK will in effect become a ‘third’ country. Everyone knows this already, right? Well yes, but the end of the transition period also means that all wooden pallets leaving and entering the UK must meet the requirements of ISPM15.

What is ISPM15, and why is it important?

ISPM15 stands for International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15. Essentially, it is a standard phytosanitary measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention. It ensures that there are no ‘unauthorised travellers’ (diseases or pests) on-board your pallets, being transported from country to country.

Given that pallets (particularly wooden pallets) are responsible for the transportation of a high percentage of all food, grocery, pharmaceutical, household etc. items into and out of the UK…you get the picture.

ISPM15 will require that all wooden pallets moving into and out of Europe will need to be heat treated and stamped in line with these regulations. Pallets that do not comply will lead to additional checking time at borders, and the possibility of returned goods on pallets (additional transportation/storage costs), potential costs for destruction or repalletisation – not to mention the cost of perished goods.

That is, of course, assuming that you can obtain ISPM15 pallets in the first place.

Surely, there are plenty of suitable pallets available from my usual sources? Maybe, maybe not. The impact of Covid-19 on the FMCG industry and its supply chain cannot be overstated. Whilst most people were wondering if they could get hold of toilet paper and dried pasta, pallet producers, pallet poolers and logistics providers were working to understand what the potential impacts of ISPM15 were, and how they could ensure that they were prepared for the coming months.

The time spent by UK businesses as a result of Covid-19 also led to lost months in preparation for ISPM15 – as they wrestled with the conundrum as to whether to try to understand it or whether to deliver your pasta!

The renewed focus on ISPM15 and trying to ensure that businesses are able to continue to import and export efficiently has raised some big questions with the UK government – namely ‘will there be sufficient ISPM15 pallets available to export UK produced products to Europe on 1 January?’ At this stage, availability should not be assumed – make sure your provider can meet your requirements.

I touched on Covid-19 and its impact on pallets and the supply chain earlier. LPR’s customer base includes household names that have seen demand sky-rocket beyond anything that could ever have been forecasted. How do you cope with this level of demand? You communicate, you prepare, and you monitor the situation very closely. And, when it’s all over, you review what worked well and learn from what didn’t.

You can read more about how LPR helped Sofidel meet Covid-19 demand at www.lpr.eu/case-study-sofidel.

The conclusion? (You were wondering if I would ever get to the point, weren’t you?)

The end of the Brexit transition period will happen, with or without a deal, on 1 January 2021.

ISPM15 will apply at that point to all imports and exports to and from Europe, and you need to ensure that your provider has sufficient pallets available to your business.

Covid-19 will be with us for a while yet, and its impact on the supply chain continues to cause supply and demand headaches – make sure that you are working with partners who understand and support your business.

You could call LPR; we’re ready for Brexit, we can provide ISPM15 compliant pallets, we’ve proven ourselves to be pandemic-proof – and will work with you to help you protect your supply chain in 2021 and beyond.

Further information at: www.lpr.eu or call 01527 523311

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