The Cold Chain Federation (CCF) has urged Government to postpone the full implementation of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) to prevent price increases.

The CCF warned that should the BTOM be implemented on 30th April, it will “increase food prices and reduce consumer choice” and questioned the readiness of Border Control Post (BCP) facilities “due to staffing shortages and unfinished infrastructure”.

In a letter to Secretary of State Steve Barclay, CCF has now urged the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to postpone full implementation until October 2024, and to use the delay to address “serious issues” in the consultation with the food logistics industry.

The letter also raised concerns about the disruption of 24-hour pre-notification requirements for the ‘groupage’ model (goods dispatched by several different companies are grouped into a same load), which CCF said is “crucial” for many small producers and retailers.

CCF asked Defra for a number of actions prior to the BTOM implementation, urging it to:

  • Review BCP readiness: The CCF asked Government to assess the operational capacity of all BCP facilities urgently
  • Expand the Trusted Trader Scheme: It proposed expanding the trusted trader pilot scheme swiftly to support the smooth operation of BTOM for medium-risk goods
  • Provide transparency on costs and benefits: The CCF requested the Government disclose the costs of BTOM and calculations for the predicted impact on food inflation.

CCF chief executive Phil Pluck said: “Even before its full implementation, it’s becoming evident that BTOM is a broken model; the CCF and its members will help the Government get this right. Without listening to the experts, the Government will seriously damage business confidence in the UK and add costs to consumers’ weekly shop.

“Temperature-controlled logistics operators are working hard to adapt to BTOM but we need better collaboration with Government and EU partners to ensure a smooth transition that safeguards food safety, minimises disruption and protects consumer interests.”