Foodex 2016

Manufacturing spending ‘hit by EU referendum uncertainty’

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United kingdom, European union

Many manufacturing business leaders are delaying investment until after the EU referendum on June 23, according to TV business broadcaster Steph McGovern.

“It’s the uncertainty … leading to investment decisions being put off because people are waiting to hear what’s going to happen,”​ McGovern told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

“And that’s what business hates – uncertainty.”

‘That’s what business hates’

Speaking after chairing a panel debate on food and drink industry trends at Foodex, McGovern said there was a chronic lack of factual information about the business implications of remaining within the EU or voting to leave in the referendum next month.

“The biggest issues are to do with the lack of information in terms of reality checks about the arguments we are hearing on both sides​ [of the EU membership debate],” said McGovern.

“And I have that struggle in my job – making sure we get the facts rather than just opinion on these things. That’s very difficult.”

The wide ranging panel discussion also considered how the health debate – particularly the sugar tax – was likely to affect food and drink manufacturers.

Burden of regulation

Worries were also expressed about the burden of regulation placed on manufacturers.

McGovern chaired the Centre stage debate at Foodex – Ask the industry – on Tuesday April 19.

Taking part in the debate were: Nigel Jenny, chief executive, Fresh Produce Consortium, Gavin Partington, director general, British Soft Drinks Association and Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

During the debate the FDF boss urged food and drink manufacturing leaders who supported Britain’s continued membership of the EU to “grow a pair”​.

Foodex took place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham between April 18–20.

Read more about McGovern’s business broadcasts here​.

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