Speaking at the Federation’s annual luncheon at London’s Hilton Park Lane today, chairman Nigel Broadhurst, who is also joint managing director of Iceland, praised the industry’s work, specifically in the progress made to boost environmental credentials and reduce food waste.
But he called for a swift end to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, whatever the outcome of the general election.
Level of uncertainty
“I’m sure we all agree that our businesses have been seriously impacted by the level of uncertainty that is hovering over the UK like a heavy black cloud and I am certain we all have examples of major decisions being held in abeyance until there is clarity on our position in relation to Europe,” he said.
“In addition to this uncertainty, which is impacting currency, employment, future growth opportunities, exports and investment in capital projects, we also have Chinese swine flu, creating unprecedented demand for all forms of protein and forcing unprecedented levels of inflation into protein markets. So, let’s hope that a general election result is able to draw a line under at least the Brexit issue.”
Despite the issue, he told delegates that the UK had demonstrated “world-class production standards” for nutritional quality, its ability to save consumers money and its role in generating skilled jobs. He also extolled the benefits of UK frozen goods.
“Our environmental credentials are first-rate,” he said. “We don’t fly fresh vegetables around the world every day. Any necessary transport is done by much more efficient shipping routes, generating much lower carbon emissions, enabling us to guarantee high-quality, convenient food, to be available 365 days a year.
“Frozen food is much more nutritious than most fresh food items. We flash-freeze our food, so we don't have to use additional preservatives, maintaining freshness and integrity for much longer. Fresh produce loses vitamins during storage, but freezing vegetables uses nature’s pause button, locking in those crucial vitamins and minerals.
“So, it is with great pride that I ask you to vote for frozen food and continue to collaborate together to foster an industry which delivers market-leading growth, innovation that is second to none, investment in manufacturing and logistics capability, and food of the safest, highest quality possible.”
Broadhurst concluded that, due to growing food industry collaboration across the frozen sector, it had become the fastest-growing sector of the food industry, with realistic sights on a combined turnover of £10bn.”