Since the UK left the EU those that import wine from the continent are required to ask suppliers for export documentation and will soon have to complete cumbersome VI-1 forms, a protectionist measure imposed on third countries by the EU that will further increase paperwork.
The extra admin is already increasing costs for suppliers, who say the low margin nature of their businesses means that price hikes will inevitably have to be passed down the supply chain.
Importantly, it could also reduce diversity because the amount of admin is commensurate with the number of different wines imported.
As such, the problems are amplified for more niche and start-up suppliers that import small quantities of high quality wine from the EU in mixed palettes.
While the post-Brexit arrangements on importing EU wines are comparable to pre-existing rules on importing wine from outside the EU, the difference is that wines exported from the latter are typically shipped in significantly larger quantities.
“At the moment there are nine additional administration steps that we need to take, and things will be even worse when VI-1 forms are required. It's a bureaucratic nightmare for ourselves but also those that sell to us,” says Liberty Wines founder and managing director David Gleave.
“My worry is that some producers that enjoy high international demand for their wines will be tempted to abandon the UK market altogether. This would be terrible for UK hospitality, which currently offers a world-class selection of wines.”
Sent to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food Victoria Prentis MP, the letter represents companies that account for sales of 932,356,560 bottles - 70% of the 1.34b bottles sold annually in the UK across the on and off trade.
It requests that the Government end the easement on 1 July and take it as an opportunity to remove entirely the requirement for VI-1s and for the EU simplified certificate, arguing that it was oft-stated objective of the Government to reduce the amount of bureaucracy UK businesses had to deal with when the country left the EU.