Kent transport

Kent Brewery hailed as Brexit ‘export champion’ still has a European customer | Brexit

A Kent brewery chosen to help champion export opportunities for the government after Brexit has revealed cumbersome customs checks and red tape have left it with just one customer remaining in the EU.

The Old Dairy Brewery in Kent – a Department for International Trade export champion for the South East – appeared in a government video last year promoting the potential for increased export sales of Brexit.

However, its exports of bottled and keg Kent beer to countries such as Italy, Germany and Sweden have plummeted since the UK left the EU due to cumbersome red tape.

The brewery now has only one European customer, a Berlin pub operator who travels to England by van to collect the beer. The value of Kent Brewery’s annual beer exports has risen from £600,000 to £2,000.

Virginia Hodge, export manager at the Tenterden-based brewery, said: “Some transport companies won’t take alcohol now because of all the transit paperwork you need. I used to be able to whip up a case of beer and mail it [to the EU] and now I have to send it through the full customs declaration. Our customers in Europe say they want to take British beer, but it’s just not profitable. They have to do a lot more paperwork.

She said the brewery’s only remaining European customer had faced multiple challenges. She said: ‘The first time he came we were up all night trying to get him through customs in Dover and out of the country.

“He was stuck with paperwork. He used to come just one night, but now it takes four days because of all the problems.

Hodge said small businesses have not received enough support. She said, “There’s no one to ask and there’s no system.” She said counselors at government hotlines refer questions about export issues to the government website.

UK goods exports to the EU hit £16.9billion in May, the highest level since records began in 1997. It was smaller traders, however, who particularly struggled with formalities additional paperwork required for post-Brexit exports.

Traffic jam at the Port of Dover caused by additional bureaucracy at the border with France. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Old Dairy Brewery now hopes to revive its business in the EU by consolidating orders with other smaller breweries. He now oversees an export collective which he hopes will help increase the trade in British beers.

Hodge said, “We hope the export collective will make us more attractive to foreign importers. We’re trying to get some beer out right now for a trade show in Munich, but the paperwork is huge.

She added it was ‘ironic’ the brewery had been selected to promote potential post-Brexit opportunities, but said she hoped the collective would help overcome the bureaucratic challenges now associated with selling to customers in the UK. EU.

Andrew Griffith, the Minister for Exports, said: “We know businesses have had to adapt to the new post-Brexit rules. We’re helping more companies seize new opportunities, and our export strategy gives them the tools they need.