Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, FDF’s Chief Executive, Ian Wright CBE, said:
Food and drink manufacturing is a national success story, with our products celebrated around the world for their provenance and high quality. Given our unique ability to deliver good jobs and growth in every community of the UK, the Government’s first priority must be to deliver a smooth and orderly exit from the EU and negotiate a best-in-class trade deal with the EU that prioritises food and drink. All measures that boost the UK’s science, research and innovation base are very welcome. Manufacturers will be delighted to take full advantage of innovative technologies in engineering, digital and life science. This will enable them to extract maximum value from available future food supplies, and contribute to the crucial wider carbon reduction agenda.
On the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill:
There can be no more important priority in our negotiations with the EU than to secure the future of the UK’s food and farming industry and safeguard UK food security and consumer confidence. Near EU markets are critical to UK producers. That is true for both for supplies of essential raw materials and exports of iconic value-added British products.
On the Environment Bill:
We are committed to protect and enhance the natural environment. A crucial element in the supply of safe, high quality raw materials. We hope the legislation introduced as part of the Environment Bill will create a consistent, evidence-based approach to resource efficiency. Any new measures in this Bill must also support the reforms industry wishes to see made to the packaging producer responsibility system, the introduction of a deposit return system and more consistent local authority collections. The Government’s ambition to transform our waste processing system is laudable, but it must work to a realistic timetable to allow appropriate investment in UK infrastructure to come on stream to make up the processing shortfall.
On the Immigration and Social Co-ordination Bill:
Over a quarter of the food and drink manufacturing workforce are EU nationals employed in roles across a range of skill levels: from scientists focused on cutting-edge R&D, to food technicians, fishmongers and food packers. They make a massive contribution to the renowned efficiency and safety of the UK food supply chain. Any new global immigration system must enable employers to access the talent they need at all skill levels and be workable for all business, including small and medium-sized firms and the many food and drink manufacturers who did not have to engage with the system previously.
On the Trade Bill:
The continued ability to trade ingredients and finished goods without friction and regulatory barriers is vital to the future success of the UK’s £121 billion food and drink supply chain. We urge Government to work with us to create a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink that underpins the UK’s enviable reputation for food quality and safety.
On the Agriculture Bill:
We are committed customers of UK farmers. UK food and drink manufacturers purchase the majority of the country’s agricultural output. We will work closely with our friends in the NFU on the UK’s future food and agriculture policy. The UK’s nearly 8000 food and drink manufacturers must have access to adequate supplies of raw materials that are safe, of high quality and competitively priced. We are committed to reducing our own environmental impacts and to working with others to increase resource efficiency and help protect natural capital across the whole food supply chain. We believe that sustainable and globally competitive food production, which looks at the supply chain as a whole, should be the key objective to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
On the Fisheries Bill:
The UK’s fish processors are the key economic players in the seafood industry and provide UK consumers with affordable, safe and healthy food. The new fisheries policy must ensure continued access to the supplies we need at competitive prices, whether domestically caught or imported. Given the transboundary nature of many of the challenges facing the industry, not least the management of shared stocks, continued collaboration and engagement with the EU27 will be even more important.