The British Meat Processors Association and the British Poultry Council joined the Food and Drink Federation and 23 other organisations, in urging the government to follow its 10-point checklist. The checklist included avoiding any trade ‘cliff-edge’ after Brexit, and quickly guaranteeing the right of the sector’s valued non-UK EU workers to remain in the UK.
The representative bodies told government: “Feeding people well is a matter of national security and vital to the success of the UK economy. UK food and farming is world leading. But, uncertainty around the shape of our exit from the EU, the future of our domestic farming and fisheries production, and a looming skills and workforce shortage threaten the viability of our businesses.
“Our trading ties with the EU are deeply interwoven, in respect of both imports and exports. Abrupt changes would have enormous consequences for our industry, its employees and for the choice and availability of food in this country.”
The remaining eight key outcomes from the Brexit talks included agreeing an Irish border deal for workers and businesses, and delivering a frictionless, free-trade deal with the EU. The representatives also urged the government to deliver an equivalent regulatory framework, and to continue investing in home-grown talent.
The government should also back its ambition for an industrial strategy sector deal, to harness the industry’s growth and productivity potential. Giving exporting help to smaller food and drink firms, providing reforms to UK farming and maintaining the UK as a desirable destination for multi-national food and drink manufacturers were also on the checklist.
The representatives said: “We offer you our expertise to deliver these 10 key outcomes.
“We believe these are all deliverable by a government and Parliament committed to securing the best possible outcome from Brexit. We urge you to work with us as the negotiations proceed.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, a report claimed UK food policy risked descending into chaos, because the government had failed to prepare for Brexit.
- Avoid any ‘cliff edge’ by securing an adequate interim and transitional period to help us prepare for a new relationship with the EU.
- Quickly negotiate the right to remain for our valued EU workforce and their families.
- Recognise the unique nature of our relationship with Ireland by agreeing a series of special solutions on workforce, regulation and borders.
- Deliver continued zero-tariff and frictionless trade across borders in both directions to give consumers the choice they expect, at a price they can afford.
- Maintain consumer confidence in UK food safety and authenticity through a stable, equivalent regulatory framework to ensure seamless trade.
- Work with us to develop home-grown talent and consult us fully over the needs of industry ahead of any new migration scheme.
- Support our ambition for an industrial strategy sector deal, to harness our industry’s growth potential and improve productivity.
- Turbocharge exports support to help smaller food and drink firms take advantage of new opportunities so that we can grow our share of global trade.
- Provide a competitive supply base and ensure reforms to UK farm support – and to fisheries management – take full account of the needs of the rural and coastal communities, planning and investment horizons.
- Maintain the UK as the destination of choice for multi-national food and drink firms and encourage inward investment to benefit our local communities
Food and drink sector representatives to sign government letter:
- Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright
- British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen
- Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association executive director Michael Bell
- Council for Responsible Nutrition UK chair Nick Bennett
- Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby
- Seed Crushers and Oil Processors Association secretary general Angela Bowden
- Association of Labour Providers chief executive David Camp
- Seasoning & Spice Association chairman Simon Cripps
- UK Tea and Infusions Association chairman Bill Gorman
- British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths
- Potato Processors’ Association and the Snack, Nut and Crisp Manufacturers Association director general Dr Sharon Hall
- British Frozen Food Federation chief executive John Hyman
- Confederation of Paper Industries director general Andrew Large
- British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim
- Health Food Manufacturers’ Association executive director Graham Keen
- Provision Trade Federation director general Andrew Kuyk
- British Oats and Barley Millers Association chairman James Mathers
- International Meat Processors Association chief executive Liz Murphy
- Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls
- British Specialist Nutrition Association director general Declan O’Brien
- Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson
- The Packaging Federation chief executive Dick Searle
- British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds
- Proprietary Association of Great Britain chief executive John Smith
- National Association of Cider Makers chief executive Fenella Tyler
- National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers director general Alexander Waugh