UK food sector still seeking clarity in wake of draft Brexit agreement
“Businesses need time to be able to implement and test any proposed Brexit agreement,” says Dairy UK chairman.
Therese May’s draft Brexit agreement has provoked strong reactions from key players within the UK food industry. Speaking during the EDA Annual Convention taking place in Dublin last week, Paul Vernon, Dairy UK Chairman and CEO of Glanbia Cheese commented: “Businesses need time to be able to implement and test any proposed Brexit agreement. Deviation from how we operate today will cost businesses money, so the more time and clarity we have the more successful we can make any Brexit outcome. From the outset of the Brexit negotiations Dairy UK has called for clarity and we continue to do so today.”
Meanwhile, Food & Drink Federation (FDF) Chief Executive, Ian Wright, said: “We would welcome any clarity relating to a potential agreement with the EU. While this is a step in the right direction, uncertainty remains. Food and drink manufacturers will have to continue planning for a variety of scenarios until our politicians have cast their judgement on the suitability of this deal. This will result in businesses incurring significant costs and devoting additional time and effort to such endeavours. Until the withdrawal agreement implementation bill receives Royal Assent, the spectre of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit looms large over our industry.”
Back in October, the FDF business confidence survey revealed that over a third (38 per cent) of food and drink manufacturers surveyed had repeated an increase in costs as a result of stockpiling ahead of a possible ‘no-deal’ Brexit. This week, The Guardian reported that the UK is running out of warehousing space, as retailers and manufacturers rush to stockpile amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit. Ian Wright told the newspaper, “All the arithmetic seems to suggest that it will be impossible for the prime minister to get her deal through, so retailers and food manufacturers are continuing with contingency plans.”