Brexit stockpiling bears little fruit for wholesaler
LONDON: Fresh fruit and vegetable entrepreneur Franco Fubini knows all about the importance of goods arriving on time, as Brexit threatens to delay delivery of produce into and out of Britain.
Preparing for possible transit chaos at the border following Britain’s formal departure from the European Union on March 29, UK companies from supermarkets to carmakers are preparing to stockpile.
However for Fubini’s company Natoora – a wholesaler, retailer and food producer – stockpiling fresh fruits and vegetables is not an option.
“For us, the freshness of the product is essential,” CEO Fubini said.
Whether his imported avocados, peaches and tomatoes will continue to arrive at the capital’s finest eateries on time is far from certain as lawmakers prepare for next week’s crucial UK parliamentary vote on the Brexit divorce deal.
“There is a huge amount of prod- uct that doesn’t grow in the UK, primarily a lot of the fruit,” said the Argentinian-Italian.
“We are forced to bring products from the continent.”
Natoora supplies more than 1,000 mostly top-end restaurants in a business spanning London, New York and Paris, with fresh produce sourced from farms in the UK, Italy, France, Spain and the United States.
“The consumption that happens at restaurants and the consumption in our retail stores, particularly eat- ing out, is very sensitive to immediate consumer concerns surrounding Brexit,” Fubini, 44, said.
As for the supply chain, “there definitely is a concern about disruption”, he said.
Natoora’s produce from mainland Europe comes into the UK on refrigerated lorries through the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France.
“On average across all the regions, you’re looking at 36-48 hours from harvesting the product to arriving in restaurants,” explained Fubini.
“I am hoping that common sense, particularly in the case of something as critical as fresh food, will help us get through this.”
He added: “There is very little that we can do within our supply chain. We can’t stockpile, we can’t shorten our supply chain, unless we helicopter things in!
“In order for us to plan, the only thing we can do is wait and see.”