In this exclusive video interview, filmed at Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum on January 23, Watkins warned of a potential division in British food.
“Food is already a devolved power and divergence has a potential to continue in the future,” he said.
‘Significant amount of divergence’
“The shackles of the EU give us [the UK] a box in which we operate. When those restraints are removed, we could potentially see a significant amount of divergence, which is a huge concern because of the costs involved.”
Watkins pointed to Scotland’s revised nutrition policy, which – while sharing many similarities with Public Health England’s – differs from England’s in some ways.
Speaking on the impact of Brexit on food and drink businesses, Watkins advised companies to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.
‘Get your house in order’
He added: “One of the things you can do is get your own house in order and understand what issues are affecting you.
“To take regulation as an example, it’s important to think about those pieces of regulation that are vital to have for the future and those that will have an adverse impact that you might want to see changed.”
Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum was held at the London office of host sponsor DWF, and was also sponsored by food surplus redistribution firm Company Shop.
Meanwhile, building strong export links with Europe will be just as important as trading with new markets after Brexit, according to Wyke Farms md Richard Clothier.