Fifth of UK food firms unprepared for deforestation regulation

16th May 2024


One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

After polling 250 large-scale businesses, the researchers found that 73% are still encountering challenges in tracking where their products and raw materials come from, with a fifth not ready for EUDR specifically.

The regulation will require all traders who place commodities including soy, palm oil and coffee on the EU market to be able to prove that the products do not originate from recently deforested land or have contributed to forest degradation.

However, a lack of understanding around traceability is preventing UK firms from preparing for the new rules, with 32% of businesses surveyed saying it was hindering progress.

Insufficient education around the funding opportunities for businesses wanting to digitise their supply chain tracking was reported by 32% of respondents, while 31% need to upskill staff.

Furthermore, data silos are preventing the creation of a connected, transparent supply chain, according to 31% of businesses, with 30% saying that data analysis is also an issue.

“Some businesses still don’t really understand that they need visibility of their supply chains and how supply chain visibility is at the core of traceability,” said Dr Stephanie Brooks, head of business traceability innovation at software firm Foods Connected, which carried out the survey.

“What’s needed is an education and awareness piece. Education around what direction traceability is going and awareness around what funding avenues are available to try and meet some of these challenges.”

EUDR will start to apply on 30 December 2024, with Foods Connected stating that it will lead to one of the most "monumental shifts to the food sector since the industrial revolution".

Its survey also found that 14% of large-scale businesses do not believe there is enough visibility around the new regulations, while 26% said that external pressures such as the pandemic and war in Ukraine have had an impact on the supply chain.

This has not been helped by that fact that the industry has been slow to invest in new tracking technologies, according to 30% of respondents, with Foods Connected urging businesses to make use of the funding available to them.

“84% of UK business leaders feel there is enough funding available from the government to support firms in their traceability journey,” Dr Brooks continued.

“However, a large number of respondents commented that there was still a job to be done in terms of education around this funding and how to access it.

“This funding has been key in increasing understanding around traceability and how it can benefit businesses. The pot is there, we want businesses to use it.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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