UK Landbridge

UK Landbridge Remains Optimal for Fresh Produce

Despite new checks brought in today under the UK Brexit trade agreement, the UK Landbridge remains optimal route for fresh produce in and out of Ireland to/from northern Europe.

The new checks being brought in are expected to be light-touch and custom requirements are now well bedded in.

  • Animal and plant products arriving into Britain from the EU may be subject to new post-Brexit customs checks from today;
  • the development will see products that present a medium to high risk to biosecurity and health undergo more rigorous checks; but
  • the measures will not impact goods moving from Ireland to Britain until next year.


There are different implementation dates for ports on the west coast of Britain, as the infrastructure needed is still not in place.  The British government has said it will announce a date for physical checks on goods arriving from Ireland shortly.

Irish fresh foods importers and exporters still choose UK Landbridge as their go-to option having reviewed lessons-learned on their mixed experience of direct boat options.

Increased transit times, adverse weather disruption, limited frequency, limited capacity, and slow recovery times to get supply chains back on track when things do go wrong are key reasons, we find supply chain professionals in the fresh produce sectors still prefer the UK Landbridge for their time-sensitive consignments.

In a low-margin industry such as fresh foods, supply chain management (SCM) delays can have a significant impact between thriving or surviving.


UK Landbridge Remains Optimal for Fresh Produce

Effective supply chain management (SCM) of fresh food supply chains is particularly challenging due to the highly perishable nature of the product involved.

In the turbulent days surrounding BREXIT, the UK’s initial withdrawal from the EU, and the twists and turns of subsequent (protracted) negotiations, many companies understandably sought the refuge of direct boat options between Ireland and mainland EU to avoid risk of disruption to their supply chains.

The shift to direct boat options was primarily driven by the uncertainty surrounding the new customs requirements, and the perceived risk regarding the potential for bottlenecks at cause border ports and supply chains to grind to a standstill.

As custom requirements are now well bedded in, and capacity at border ports proven, Supply Chain Managers, particularly in the fresh produce sectors, are reassessing their use of the UK Landbridge as their go-to option and seeking lessons-learned on their mixed experience of direct boat options.


UK Landbridge Provides Choice & Resilience

  • UK Landbridge Provides Choice & Resilience: Supply chain professionals are now very comfortable post-Brexit using a responsive mix of direct ferry and UK Landbridge routes with an expectation that transport providers can provide integrated customs clearance solutions to dynamically ensure exports move cross-border without delays.
  • Integrated Supply Chain: The UK Landbridge is seamlessly integrated into existing supply chains, allowing for smoother logistics coordination and faster delivery of fresh foods to market destinations.
  • Flexibility and Reliability: The UK Landbridge offers greater supply chain management (SCM) flexibility in scheduling and routing, allowing for timely adjustments to meet changing demand and ensure reliable delivery of fresh foods, even in peak seasons or unforeseen circumstances and to support effective SCM of Seasonal Listings, Food Specials Listings and demand variations.


Key issues associated with direct boat vs UK Landbridge:

  • Extended Transit Time Impacts Margin: Using direct boat options introduces longer transit times compared to the traditional UK Landbridge (often as much as half a day when journey time and frequency are factored in) resulting in baked-in delays that eat into end-shelf life of fresh foods and impact freshness and quality. In a low-margin industry such as supermarket fresh foods, supply chain management (SCM) delays can have a significant impact between thriving or surviving.
  • Limited Capacity & Frequency: Direct boat options available have limited capacity and less frequent sailings compared to the established ferry and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle alternatives of the UK Landbridge Reliance on direct boat options makes it difficult for Supply Chain Managers to optimise their Fresh Foods Supply Chain and make it challenging for businesses to meet demand and maintain flexible and reliable supply.  In contrast, LeShuttle Freight offers up to 6 departures an hour with an average crossing time of only 35 minutes via the Channel Tunnel.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Direct boat routes offer limited flexibility in re-scheduling and re-routing compared to the established ferry and Eurotunnel Le Shuttle alternatives of the UK Landbridge route, making it highly challenging for Supply Chain Managers to effectively manage multiple suppliers and react to unforeseen events to get their supply chains back on track and consistently meet delivery schedules to Regional Distribution Centres (RDCs).
  • Heightened Disruption Risk: Reliance on direct boat options for transporting fresh produce introduces significant supply chain vulnerabilities. Direct boat options sail via open sea and are inherently more susceptible to significant delays and cancellations due to adverse weather conditions, impacting delivery dependability, supermarket inventory levels, and product availability.
  • RDC & Warehouse Time Slot Management Issues: Unpredictability of upstream supply chain and delays to trunk routes can quickly lead to severe and widespread problems downstream at warehouses and distribution centres impacting Time Slot Management (TSM) and have significant negative impact on your Regional Supply Chain and the ability of these teams and locations to accept deliveries and maintain onward deliveries to stores.
  • Slow Recovery Times: When cancellations occur on direct boat routes, experience shows it can be very difficult to get back on track due to restricted capacity, limited alternative options and the complex logistics involved in rescheduling shipments, leading to further delays in transporting fresh produce.
  • Sub-Optimal Inventory Management: Potential for reduced flexibility and reliability in any aspect of the supply chain requires risk mitigation to be put in place. Supply chain professionals need to be able to react quickly to anticipated stock levels.  The inherent limitations associated with current direct boat options can adversely impact supply chain professionals’ ability to balance supply and demand while optimising pallet usage, minimum order quantities and delivery lead times.  Overstocking can lead to unsold items reaching their expiry dates, while understocking can result in lost sales opportunities.
  • Seasonal Listings, Food Specials Listings & Demand Variations: Seasonal Listings, short-run Food Specials Listings, and general fluctuations in demand for fresh produce require rapid adjustments in SCM that require maximum flexibility in capacity and frequency. The flexibility supply chain professionals require is better accommodated by the significantly greater capacity and frequency of UK Landbridge.
  • Cost Considerations: While direct boat routes may seem cost-effective initially, the potential for increased total costs due to longer transit times, and increased risk of significant delays or cancellations due to adverse weather can negatively impact the bottom line.
  • Quality Assurance Issues: Issues with direct boat options may pose challenges in maintaining quality assurance for fresh produce. Extended transit times and heightened risk of significant delays and cancellations increase the risk of supply chain disruption, product degradation, and compromised quality upon arrival.
  • Customer Expectations: Supermarkets and consumers alike expect fresh produce to be of high quality and have an extended shelf life. Direct boat routes may struggle to meet these expectations consistently due to the inherent limitations and risks associated with deep sea transportation.
  • Brand Reputation: Quality issues and delays in delivering fresh produce to supermarkets can damage brand reputation and erode consumer trust, particularly if instances of spoilage or subpar quality become publicised or recurrent.


Our in-house Customs Clearance Teams have worked seamlessly with our Transport Teams to ensure products have continued to move across borders without delays.

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HANNON Transport
Temperature Controlled Logistics
Ireland, UK & Europe

Get in touch to find out more about our daily refrigerated services providing transport and customs for consignments of horticultural products between EU and Ireland…

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Chilled & Frozen Logistics

Europe, UK & Ireland

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