BREXIT is set to cost the UK between £2 and £4 billion in lost food exports across its first full year out of the European Union.

According to Mark Lynch of food sector finance company Oghma Partners, the claim that January's 63.6% trade slump was the result of temporary 'teething' issues ignores the extra – and permanent – cash costs baked into the UK's new trading relationship with the EU.

Mr Lynch highlighted the detailed report, newly published by the British Meat Processors Association, reviewing the impact of the first three months of trading under the new Brexit regime.

"In essence, the problems boil down to the need to provide additional documentation that was not needed prior to the UK leaving the EU," noted Mr Lynch. "Certification is costly and as importantly time consuming."

Due to the short shelf life of some of the exported meat products the BMPA report suggests that it will not be possible to replace that lost trade by sending product to markets further afield: "The nature of the fast-moving, high-value chilled fresh food trade we have with Europe cannot be replicated with countries that are not on our doorstep."

Mr Lynch said his company was seeing first-hand food businesses 'voting with their feet' and moving their operations from the UK to the EU single market, removing both jobs and tax revenue from the UK, and estimated that full year food and drink exports to the EU will fall between £2 and £4bn.

"The government has had four years to prepare for leaving the EU and has failed, despite industry warnings, to do so adequately," said Mr Lynch. "It seems it would be better to accept that these problems exist and to seek to rectify them through investing some of the suggested £350million saved per week from leaving the EU in the UK food industry, than accept a de facto permanent loss in business."