“We’d been told the product would arrive in France, so we put Calais as the point of entry. It went to Rotterdam, where it sat for six weeks,” he said. “Chocolate. Sitting in a warehouse. For six weeks.”
Through a shipping agent, he managed to get the import duty dropped. He learned a lesson about filling out forms, but that expertise won’t help him much.
“It’s impossible to find shippers that will deliver to Europe,” he said, “because there’s a backlog of goods in the pipeline.”
At Coco Caravan, a chocolate maker in the Cotswolds, the stasis has meant that Europe has gone from 15 percent of the company’s revenue to zero. That has caused Jacques Cop, the owner, to disappoint old customers and put off new ones. In recent months, prospective buyers in the Netherlands, France and Germany have expressed interest.
“They say, ‘We found you online and love everything you do in terms of being ethically sourced and vegan, but how are you going to combat the import-export problem we will have with the European Union?’” said Mr. Cop. “We can’t give them a clear answer, other than, ‘Yes, there will be additional costs involved.’”
Mr. Cop is also confronting a challenge common among small chocolate makers in Britain: importing raw ingredients from Europe. He stockpiled cacao in 2020 from his source of choice in Amsterdam. Now that it is time to buy more, obstacles have emerged. Transportation costs have doubled, which is bad enough. But Mr. Cop says his shipper refuses to take new orders because of worries that a shipment will somehow get blocked between Amsterdam and Britain.
“It’s to the point where I’m thinking of borrowing a Renault van and just driving to the Netherlands myself,” Mr. Cop said. “It’s a 10-hour drive each way. But I’m not sure I have another choice.”