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BREXIT

No end in sight for Brexit shortages at Marks & Spencer food stores in Paris

A week on from the UK's exit from the European Unions and the Paris branches of British chain store Marks and Spencer are still reporting shortages of fresh food as a result of the Brexit effect.

No end in sight for Brexit shortages at Marks & Spencer food stores in Paris
Photo: AFP

Marks & Spencer has several dozen Food Hall stores in Paris and its suburbs, much beloved of British residents of the city for supplying homely delicacies like Breakfast tea, crumpets, sandwiches and ready meals.

But post-Brexit supply problems are taking their toll, and since the beginning of January shoppers have reported virtually empty shelves, with some stores closing their door altogether.

The store at Porte Maillot in the 17th arrondissement was on Monday displaying a sign saying it had received no shipments from the UK due to new government directives on trade between France and the UK.

 

Since the Brexit transition period ended on January 1st businesses transporting goods into EU countries such as France face a raft of new regulations, especially around animal products.

Any product such as meat, dairy or eggs that derives from animals needs a veterinary certificate stating that it conforms to EU regulations, in addition to the extra customs documentation that all imports into the EU now require.

The strict food regulations apply to both businesses and individuals, so people travelling from the UK to France can no longer bring along a ham sandwich for the journey.

News of the shortages was met with dismay by M&S's loyal customers in Paris.

 

 

 

Marks & Spencer said it was working to solve the problem and hope to have all their lines back on the shelves shortly.

But by Friday there was still no sign of the shortages ending.

 

 

 

 

M&S stores in Ireland were also reporting similar shortages.

 

An M&S spokesman said in a statement: “As we are transitioning to the new processes, it is taking a little longer for some of our products to reach stores.

“But we are working with our partners, suppliers and relevant government agencies and local authorities to quickly improve this.”

M&S chairman Archie Norman had warned as far back as August 2018 of this particular Brexit risk.

“If our lorries are sitting in a lorry park near Dover for half a day, that would be the demise of the great M&S sandwich in Paris,” he told The Financial Times.

The sandwiches and other meals for the retailer's 21 food stores in the country – all but one in Paris and one in the northern city of Lille – are made in a factory in central England.

Norman suggested that setting up production in France was not a viable proposition.

Member comments

  1. UK to France can no longer bring along a ham sandwich for the journey
    That’s stupid!
    Tarquin, show some respect.
    Brits rely on M&S for a variety of imports. Where, dare I ask, are you from?

  2. M&S unable to sell their overpriced, processed crap to people who can’t cook in France? Time for Daily Mail to launch a campaign.

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FOOD & DRINK

French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

The French baguette - one of the country's most abiding images - was given world heritage status by UNESCO on Wednesday, the organisation announced.

French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

More than six billion baguettes are baked each year in France and the UN agency inscribed the tradition in its “intangible cultural heritage” list.

Reader question: How many baguettes does the average French person eat per day?

France voted on 2021 on whether to apply for the status for the baguette, for the distinctive grey zinc roofs of Paris or for the tradition of wine festivals – and baguettes were selected.

Now UNESCO has announced the latest addition to its intangible cultural heritage list, granting the status to the savoir-faire (known-how) behind the creation of the French bread and the culinary tradition that surrounds it.

Baguettetiquette: Weird things the French do with bread

A true baguette – known as un tradition – has just four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt and is baked in a steam oven to give it the distinctive crispy crust and soft interior.

MAPS How many Parisians live more than five minutes from a boulangerie?

The UN agency granted “intangible cultural heritage status” to the tradition of making the baguette and the lifestyle that surrounds them.

More than six billion are baked every year in France, according to the National Federation of French Bakeries — but the UNESCO status comes at a challenging time for the industry.

France has been losing some 400 artisanal bakeries per year since 1970, from 55,000 (one per 790 residents) to 35,000 today (one per 2,000).

The decline is due to the spread of industrial bakeries and out-of-town supermarkets in rural areas, while urbanites increasingly opt for sourdough, and swap their ham baguettes for burgers.

Still, it remains an entirely common sight to see people with a couple of sticks under their arm, ritually chewing off the warm end (the crouton) as they leave the boulangerie.

There are national competitions, during which the candidates are sliced down the middle to allow judges to evaluate the regularity of their honeycomb texture as well as the the colour of the interior, which should be cream.

But despite being a seemingly immortal fixture in French life, the baguette only officially got its name in 1920, when a new law specified its minimum weight (80 grams) and maximum length (40 centimetres).

“Initially, the baguette was considered a luxury product. The working classes ate rustic breads that kept better,” said Loic Bienassis, of the European Institute of Food History and Cultures, who helped prepare the UNESCO dossier.

“Then consumption became widespread, and the countryside was won over by baguettes in the 1960s and 70s,” he said.

Its earlier history is rather uncertain.

Some say long loaves were already common in the 18th century; others that it took the introduction of steam ovens by Austrian baker August Zang in the 1830s for its modern incarnation to take shape.

One popular tale is that Napoleon ordered bread to be made in thin sticks that could be more easily carried by soldiers.

Another links baguettes to the construction of the Paris metro in the late 19th century, and the idea that baguettes were easier to tear up and share, avoiding arguments between the workers and the need for knives

“It is a recognition for the community of artisanal bakers and patisserie chefs,” said Dominique Anract, president of bakeries federation in a statement.

“The baguette is flour, water, salt and yeast — and the savoir-faire of the artisan.”

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