The Ethical Dairy forced to halt delivery to Northern Ireland due to Brexit paperwork

A Scottish business has had to stop deliveries to Northern Ireland as they 'don't have the resources' to undertake the paperwork now required after Brexit.

Published 26th Jan 2021
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

The Ethical Dairy, located in Castle Douglas in the Borders, has stopped delivery to Northern Ireland due to the paperwork involved after Brexit.

Posting on their social media, the small business owners explained this move, saying: "Sadly we need to suspend accepting orders for delivery to Northern Ireland with immediate effect.

"We know this will be disappointing for our NI customers. We just don’t have the resources to undertake the paperwork required. We are so sorry."

The thread, which was then posted on to their website went on to explain that the paperwork now involved for exporting to Northern Ireland (under the UK's Brexit deal) is not designed for small businesses.

Wilma Finlay of The Ethical Dairy explained the halt in Northern Ireland deliveries further, saying: "We make unpasteurised organic cheese with the milk from our organic farm.

"We mainly sell this cheese direct to customers through our website.

"While online sales have always been important to us, the impact of covid means that 80% of our cheese is now sold this way - with cheese dispatched in small quantities and sent overnight by courier direct to our customers’ own homes.

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"The paperwork now required to send products of animal origin into the single market is understandably designed for moving large volumes of produce. In other words, it’s simply not designed for businesses like us.

"Our understanding is that every delivery of organic dairy products into Northern Ireland now requires a vet’s health certificate and an organic inspection certificate, plus associated export paperwork.

"This would be required for every order. Our average order value is around £35. The costs of compliance with the new requirements makes direct to consumer sales of our cheese into Northern Ireland simply not viable."

Wilma went on to explain that the business is not unfamiliar with exporting as it did so with ice cream to South Korea, a job that involved similar paperwork.

Now though, the problem is the scale as "vet certificates and export paperwork are justifiable to enable export of a shipping container of ice cream. It simply isn’t justifiable, from a business point of view, to do this for an individual order of cheese."

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She continued: "The biggest blow for us is telling our existing customers in Northern Ireland that we can no longer send them cheese.

"We are so sorry to be unable to find a workable solution. The frustrating thing is that we are actually closer to Northern Ireland than we are to Glasgow or Edinburgh – people in Northern Ireland are more than our customers, they’re our neighbours.

"We have been taken aback at both the interest in this on social media, and the support for our business. We are so grateful, thank you."

The Ethical Dairy offers customers a range of cheese made from the organic milk of the herd of cattle.

Their ethical approach means that calves stay with their mothers for five to six months with milking only happening once a day.

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They say this new approach to dairy farming has led to huge reductions in the use of antibiotics,and has increased biodiversity.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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