Too often the quality of products was being re-engineered to cut costs, said Stein. This, together with a failure to reinvest in production facilities, jeopardised the future of the sector, he warned.
"Sometimes I hear things that make me cringe," said Stein. "I don't want to be going back to the days when people were trying to make a sausage for 5p or 10p; putting all kinds of junk in it ." He added: "There are ways of finding innovative developments that can reduce costs without downgrading the product through packaging and distribution. There is a whole host of ways we are working to reduce cost without taking much out of the product."
However, further efficiency improvements could only go so far and there came a point at which there was no more fat left to cut, he warned. "You can't go on forever doing that and there will come a point in time where raw material prices go up and there will be a point where we say, enough's enough, we need some price increases and I think we are at that stage now."