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Brexit supply fears aired by rural economy minister Fergus Ewing

By Gregor White

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Managing director Magnus Swanson (left) with rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.
Managing director Magnus Swanson (left) with rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing.

Fergus Ewing has raised fears that Brexit could impact the Highland food chain – and school meals in particular.

He raised the issue during a visit to Swanson’s in Inverness which supplies schools and nurseries across the region and employs 43 people, including in depots in Nairn and Elgin.

Cabinet secretary for rural economy, Fergus Ewing, said: “Swanson’s is a major supplier of food, veg and dairy in the Highlands, supplying schools from John O’Groats to Glencoe and from Skye to Grantown on Spey, so it performs a fairly valuable social function for the Highlands and Islands. The risk here [is] of tariffs on the imported goods by this particular company, Swanson’s. That is a considerable risk, an extra tax, out of the blue. Why have the tax when we can carry on with frictionless trade with the EU?

“That is a very practical example to the continuation of the supply of fruit and vegetables and dairy products to every school in the Highlands caused by Brexit, so it is not a theoretical point – it is something that impacts every child who attends school and every parent who wants to get excellent food to their children.”

Magnus Swanson, managing director, said: “We are concerned that this has been dragging on so long and we are worried that there might be tariffs on the produce which [we] import from Europe – we don’t know yet but there might, so there is that uncertainty.

“Some of our contracts are priced long-term so any increase would be borne by us and our growers are very dependent on European labour.”

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