The Brexit dream of having territorial rights over our coastal waters that were previously shared with our largest export market had to come at a cost, and the cost, in the short term anyway, is currently £1m of Scottish seafood exports lost each day. One in three boats are now tied up and fish prices are reportedly down by 80%. The dream of no tariffs may be a reality but there is an abundance of other b words, bureaucracy which is hurting our fishing communities. Brian Donnelly, the Business Correspondent at The Herald is running an excellent commentary.
On the import side of the story, our first post Brexit Italian delivery will be arriving on Monday. This keeps our food exciting, seasonal and yes Italian! Get your orders in for our stunning produce boxes available for delivery (Edinburgh and UK) from Wednesday.
Who knew 0808309090 were Pere Abate. But surprise surprise 0705190000 can be Insalata Variegatia or Riccia? Victor and Emma in accounts have spent weeks researching all of this information. Until Thursday, when the order was placed we still didn’t know what the full bureaucracy costs were. We have allowed for a three day delay, one Italy side and two UK side, should any of the correspondence or codes be incomplete. The pallet was initially delayed for a few hours due to one missing code but has now passed the UK customs EU side, when you read this the goods should have arrived in the UK. If we have to cancel your orders this week it will be due to what happens once it arrives in the UK, but so far delivery is looking on track and on schedule.
Businesses (and parents even more so with homeschooling) spend life trying to simplify what is an incredibly complicated task. Brexit is just adding complications to fill non essentials pockets. We were told we were leaving these inefficiencies but the cost is starting to hit home big time.
As a member of Slow Food I sometimes get asked why we’re not just buying everything local? It’s January. There are loads of local kale, cabbage and the likes, but there is sunshine.
We’ve always said we’ll buy what we can’t source in Scotland and that’s usually everything but sunshine. The sunshine tomatoes from Puglia and pears from the Emilia-Romagna or our Tuscan Meloni Lorenzini add vitamins, heritage and shorter air miles than the produce that is currently filling supermarket shelves from Egypt, Brazil and Kenya. And most importantly everything tastes amazing!
Environmental views on exports aside, the fact we have historically imported more fish in the UK than we export (75% of what we catch we have exported) is down to education and an ability to cook as much as demand. In an ideal world we would be more self-sufficient but when there is a market willing to pay a premium, in a commercial world, the premium price wins.
For our fishing communities we hope the Brexit bureaucracy is resolved and supply to their traditional markets on the Continent returns as there is only so much capacity in Denmark. Yes there are always new markets but with so many UK restaurants closed, it’s not just Brexit affecting our fishing communities.
The lorries that bring our Italian produce and those on the supermarket shelves are the same that exports all that shellfish back to the Continent. Swapping sunshine for shellfish. Last week two thirds of these lorries were heading back empty. Rumours of holliers boycotting the UK is just another potential cost.
My son constantly tells me “It is what it is!”, a phrase I often hear from his generation. Are they more accepting, more realistic or simply more bruised than we are?
Victor has a direct route to the markets in Italy and we’re continuing to share this with you. We’re not buying in supermarket quantities but we’ve priced our food to cover our costs and allow us to keep this service going. If you’ve not ordered before, try? We all need a little sunshine in our lives.
A final little note: A wee shout out to the Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry, preparing school lunches at cost for local families. When you think about how many restaurant kitchens are lying empty, I’m sure there are hundreds of family restaurants around the country that would have happily prepared healthy food that those £30 food parcels are supposed to provide? Imagine, a furloughed team could have been deployed to Covid safe kitchens to prepare this food. Not only helping to support the teams’ mental health and wellbeing but also provide home cooking for families forced to work from home. How can these things not be thought through and joined up better?
PS I love you all. Results from our survey are in and 80% of you are not looking for “diet” style dishes; which made me laugh, 97% of you will continue to use our at Home service during lockdown; thank you so much, 85% of you want more classic recipes; noted, and 95% of you would like more savoury recipes. We have our instructions.
On Mondays (during lockdown) I’m going to share recipes and sometimes little videos of some of these Italian sunshine ingredients we know many of you haven’t used before. Iona and Ruth (these are for you!). Anything to keep the troops entertained.
Keep well and keep safe
Keep smiling, it’s so much easier in the sunshine.
And thank you, thank you, thank you!