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Food manufacturers back EU membership ‘overwhelmingly’

By Mike Stones+

Last updated on 16-Mar-2016 at 11:47 GMT2016-03-16T11:47:13Z

Food and drink manufacturers have voted 'overwhelming' to remain part of the EU in an FDF poll
Food and drink manufacturers have voted 'overwhelming' to remain part of the EU in an FDF poll

Leading UK food and drink manufacturers have given “an overwhelming endorsement” to the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.

In a poll conducted by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), more than two thirds (71%) of respondents backed the ‘remain’ option.

A further 17% chose the option ‘my company chooses not to express a preference’.

Those supporting the ‘leave’ option accounted for 12% of respondents.

FDF director general Ian Wright said the 71% of members who voted believed the interests of their business would be best served by the UK voting to remain in the EU.

‘Among key considerations’

“Members identified the single market, access to raw materials and the free movement of labour among key considerations in coming to their view,” said Wright.

FDF members also helped to identify priorities for EU reform that would boost our sector’s long term competitiveness, he added.

Those included increasing access to non-EU markets to boost exports of finished goods and ensure imports of required ingredients, safeguarding free movement of labour within the EU and tackling unnecessary red tape. Of particular concern was to ensure consistent interpretation and implementation of EU employment regulation.

“Of course, FDF is a representative of all of its members; so we completely respect those (17% of those voting) whose business chose not express a preference and those (12% of those voting) who supported the ‘leave’ option,” said Wright.

‘Supported the leave option’

“We speak on behalf of our membership as a whole, not on behalf of any single member company.”

 Wright said he was “delighted” that the FDF executive committee felt strongly that the organisation should have a clear point of view on the most important issues facing our industry. 

“Few are more important than the EU referendum and our point of view is clear – the UK should remain a member!,” said Wright.

EU reform priorities
  • Increasing access to non-EU markets to boost exports of finished goods and ensure imports of ingredients
  • Safeguarding free movement of labour within EU
  • Tackling unnecessary red tape
  • Consistent interpretation and implementation of EU employment regulation

Most of the companies included in the survey were small- and medium-sized businesses. Many of the FDF’s largest manufacturers are parent companies of multiple subsidiaries and its membership totals nearly 300 companies.

But the FDF was not planning to register as a registered campaigner with the Electoral Commission.

The FDF survey confirmed the results of a separate survey by the Confederation of British industry, which reported 80% of members wanted to stay in the EU.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “The message from our members is resounding  – most want the UK to stay in the EU because it is better for their business, jobs and prosperity.

“Walking away makes little economic sense and risks throwing away the many benefits we gain from being part of the EU.”

Nearly 800 firms taking part in the survey agreed remaining in Europe was “better for business, jobs and prosperity”.

Meanwhile, what's your view? Share your thoughts on the benefits, or otherwise, of EU membership with's independently-audited, monthly circulation of more than 130,000 unique visitors by taking part in our survey below.


Should we stay or should we go? Were FDF members right to back Britain's continued EU membership?

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