North America's longstanding grey market for ambient grocery products from the UK is set to collapse as the US Food and Drink Administration introduces strict new rules to combat bioterrorism threats (The Grocer, March 1, p10).
At a briefing for UK exporters at the 49th annual Fancy Food Show in New York this week, Steve Dawson, president of Food from Britain North America, warned additional red tape facing shippers from December 12 would make it difficult for containers of grey market product to pass through US Customs.
Estimates circulating at the Manhattan show put the value of the trade as "upwards of £10m". But from the end of this year, exporters will have to register with the Food and Drink Administration and also notify it in advance with full details of all shipments.
Exporters of meat, poultry or egg products are not immediately affected as they come under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Agriculture. However, the department is also expected to introduce similar rules.
The marketing director of a major US food supplier said: "Anything that stops the grey market will be welcome. It can play havoc with exclusive sales arrangements with US retailers. Container-loads of goods like biscuits, bought in large quantities from UK C&Cs, have been shipped across the Atlantic in recent months."

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