Four reasons to stay in the EU: Greencore boss

This content item was originally published on, a William Reed online publication.

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Four factors explain why the food and drink industry would be much better off if the UK voted to retain EU membership rather than opting to leave, Greencore ceo Patrick Coveney told the Food Manufacture Group’s Business Leaders Forum in London.

A vote to resign UK membership in a referendum – which could be held as early as this summer – would frustrate access to food raw materials, undermine the availability of labour from EU countries and weaken sterling, which in turn would prompt capital flows out of the UK, forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates, said Coveney in this exclusive video interview.

Scottish independence referendum

The Greencore boss’s final reason to retain EU membership was that a vote to quit would spark a new Scottish independence referendum, which this time the nationalists would undoubtedly win.

“The vast majority of business leaders believe that their companies are better served by being in the EU,”​ said Coveney.

No speaker at the forum spoke in favour of quitting the EU.

In contrast, former environment secretary Owen Paterson told the Oxford Farming Conference earlier this month that quitting the EU would offer the food and farming industry a launch pad for growth​.

Coveney’s comments were made before Prime Minister David Cameron urged business leaders to make their views on EU membership  known.

‘Get out there and support those things’

Should we stay or go?

“The vast majority of business leaders believe that their companies are better served by being in the EU.”​ 

  • Patrick Coveney, Greencore

“Even though the question isn’t settled,”​ Cameron told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “I think that if business backs my reforms – if you want to see the competitive Europe; if you want to see the flexible Europe; if you want to see a Europe where you can be in the eurozone and win or out of the eurozone and win – I would argue: get out there and support those things.​”

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Liz Truss admitted recently to having no Plan B, in the event of an EU Refendum vote in favour of quitting the union. But does Greencore have a Plan B? Find out next week in our continuing coverage of the forum in news, video interviews and analysis on and in the February edition of Food Manufacture​ magazine.

The annual Business Leaders Forum was held at the office of host sponsor law firm DWF in central London on Wednesday January 20. The other event sponsors were ALcontrol and insurance firm RSA.

For more information about the event, contact Mike Stones at​.

  • This video was produced by Laurence Gibbons.

Why leaving the EU ‘would damage the UK food industry’

  1. Threaten access to food raw materials
  2. Threaten the availability of labour from EU countries
  3. Weaken sterling, forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates
  4. Create internal tensions, leading to a Scottish independence referendum, which the nationalists would win

Source: Greencore ceo Patrick Coveney

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1 comment

patrick coveney's Brexit assertion

Posted by P J BROWNE,

Patrick Coveney of Greencore makes his assertions about the dangers of a Brexit.Patrick is probably a good CEO of this large(ish)Irish food company. Like myself he is Irish. Ireland is a country of approximately only four million people in spite of being approximateley the same size as England who's population is nearer 60 million. The Irish people are politically savvy and well informed. A few years back they voted against the Lisbon Treaty (which gave yet more powers to the EU bureaucrats. In spite of this democratically arrived at decision, people like Patrick Coveney cajoled, bribed and threatened the people into voting YES in a hastily arranged second referendum.Patrick's point on trade is a fallacy peddled by pro EU people. The fact that the EU exports approximately £50 billion more every year than the UK sells to the EU countries. Although you wouldn't bet against the level of stupidity that exists within the EU, they cannot be so stupid as to damage that level of trade.
He is also worried by high labour costs brought about by the imminent working wage in the UK. That will come about irrespective of Brexit. He will have to move his UK based sandwich making operation to a low cost facilitysomewhere else in the EU. Are retailers such as M&S likely to import fresh sandwiches from abroad? What will that do to the quality and the cost of the product?
He then goes on to highlight the dangers to £Sterling. Speaking as a citizen of a country which is firmly in the basket case currency that is the Euro, on what basis is he making his assumption? Sterling is strong against the Euro precisely because the UK is NOT in the Eurozone.It is strong because it is managing its economy well. Any higher interest rates would strengthen Sterling, even if it had an impact on costs.
He then finishes his assertions talking about regional tensions within the UK should it leave the EU. Why would it? Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have very strong devolved powers.With the collapse in the oil price Scotland is understanding the strength of being in a United Kingdom. It is a bit ironic for an Irishman to be warning about regional tensions of all things!
Toyota is one of the biggest corporations in the world. They have studied the potential pros and cons of a Brexit and come to the conclusion that irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, they will be remaining in the UK for the long term. They understand the bigger picture. If only business leaders like Patrick Coveney declared their intentions as clearly, it would then give their customers and employees greater certainty about who they source goods from and who they choose to work for respectively. There are lots of companies out there making sanwiches!!

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