Pro-Brexit firm Tate and Lyle in warning about shortages after transition period

A view of the Tate + Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, east London.

A view of the Tate + Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, east London. - Credit: PA

Tate and Lyle Sugars, a company that has backed both the Tories and Brexit, have issued a warning to customers that it could be hit by significant disruption at the end of the transition period later this year.

The company, which supplies major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencers has warned the uncertainty over Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol is likely to cause shortages.

There are just seven weeks until the end of the transition period, but the government is still unable to explain the customs procedures, whether there will be tariffs or quotas in Northern Ireland, and what labelling is required. 

It has left food and drink suppliers concerned, with the sugar company of three major food manufacturers to warn about Brexit uncertainty in the New Year.

It has been one of the few major companies that backed Brexit, with analysts believing the move would save the business millions from tariff-free imports of sugar cane, after years of EU protection for sugar beet producers.

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In a statement, Tate & Lyle Sugars said: “As a responsible supplier, we have been working with our NI customers on solutions that will allow us to continue supplying NI shoppers after January 1.

"To support that, we need the EU and UK to agree common sense rules that prioritise the NI consumer by recognising there is little risk from allowing existing trade to continue.

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"We know officials on both sides are working hard to negotiate exactly this to ensure security of supply.”

Naomi Smith, from the pro-EU campaign Best for Britain, said: "Tate & Lyle publicly campaigned for Brexit, and now we find out that Northern Irish consumers have been made the sacrificial lamb in their pursuit of riches elsewhere.

"The government told us that the point of the Internal Market Bill was to give certainty that food would continue to flow, but major food manufacturers don't seem to agree.

"The only way to give Northern Ireland any certainty is to strike an agreement with the EU and sort out the customs chaos."

A spokesperson for the UK government said: “The UK and the EU have committed to an intensified process of engagement to resolve all outstanding issues with the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol which includes securing the flexibilities we need for trade from GB to NI.

"This is particularly important for supermarkets, where we have been clear specific solutions are required.

"We will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland Executive as discussions continue with the EU through the Joint Committee process."

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