F&B sector reacts to election outcome

Posted: 5 July 2024 | | No comments yet

As the UK wakes up to a Labour election victory, the food and beverage sector has already been voicing their reactions. Find out their responses here…

Kier Starmer

On Thursday 4 July, Brits ventured to polling stations up and down the country to cast their votes in the 2024 general election.

This election, citizens were voting to elect 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from political parties including Conservative, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Green, and Reform, amongst others.

Despite being in power for 14 years, the Conservative party will no longer be spearheading UK politics, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is poised to be the next Prime Minister after what The Guardian has dubbed a “landslide Labour” election victory.

In a statement made to press at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Sir Keir Starmer began his speech with the phrase “We did it”, before claiming that “change begins now”.

“Across our country, people will be waking up to the news, relieved that a weight has been lifted,” continued Starmer before branding the Conservatives losing power as “a burden [that has] finally been removed from the shoulders of this great nation.”

Rishi Sunak, leader of the Conservative party, who has been Prime Minister since 25 October 2022, also made a declaration speech in light of the election results, on what he called a “difficult night”.

“The Labour Party has won this general election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory. Today power will change hands in a peaceful and orderly manner with goodwill on all sides, that is something that should give us all confidence in our country’s stability and future,” began Sunak.

“The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight. There is much to learn and reflect on and I take responsibility for the loss,” he continued.

Food inflation at highest level in over 45 years

But how has the food and beverage industry in the UK reacted to the results of the general election? Starting with the meat sector, Tony Goodger, spokesperson for the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), commented:  “The new Labour  Government has promised to “kickstart the economy” stating in their manifesto that they “will publish a trade strategy and use every lever available to get UK business the access it needs to international markets. This will promote the highest standards when it comes to food production.

“It is essential that the meat and poultry processing industry have access to skilled and affordable labour”, he continued “and we will continue, as before to make the case with the Migration Advisory Committee and the Home Office”.

“We also look forward to working with the new ministerial teams and their officials at Defra, DBT and FCO as we note that the Government’s ambitions include “…striking new free trade agreements” and to “negotiate standalone sector deals…” added Goodger.

Goodger went on to share that “AIMS’ number one priority with respect to overseas trade is to restore frictionless movement of POAO products into mainland Europe which we know can be easily achieved by establishing a veterinary agreement with the EU”.

“It is also essential that the new Government fully recognise that the food industry and it’s supply chains sit within the UK’s critical national infrastructure” said Tony. “We urge ministers across Whitehall to immediately take the opportunity to re-classifying those ideologically driven individuals or groups who disrupt supply chains are no longer as ‘activists’ but are now treated as ‘criminals’ and swiftly dealt with by the courts”.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium congratulated Starmer and the Labour Party on their success in yesterday’s election, with Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, stating: “The country has made its decision and we now look forward to getting down to business with the new government. Retail is an important source of employment and investment in every part of the country, and through its scale and reach can make a big contribution to Labour’s policy goals. Finding ways to unlock this contribution over the next five years should be a shared endeavour between the new government and the retail industry.

“Labour’s manifesto made some crucial commitments for retail, from reforming business rates, planning and the apprenticeship levy, to introducing a specific offence for assaulting a retail worker, and we now await the details of how these will be taken forward.”

“Labour recognised that the business rates system is broken. With retail paying 22 percent of the total rates bill while accounting for 5 percent of the economy, it is the number one thing in the way of increased retail investment which could unlock growth across the economy. So we look forward to further engagement on the details as the work starts here in turning commitments into delivery,” continued Dickinson.

New Food will keep its readers updated with additional responses from the sector in the coming weeks.

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