The Food and Drink
Federation (FDF) is conducting a survey on how the industry feels about the
proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda.
The FDF survey reflects many
of the areas which will be investigated by the phase 2 investigation by the
Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which begins in December. The FDF
added, ‘We are keen to ensure the views and concerns of UK food and drink
manufacturers of all sizes are heard by the CMA and we invite businesses to
respond to this short survey. This survey is designed to focus on the impact of
the Sainsbury’s / Asda merger on consumers, based on the CMA’s remit to
consider effects on consumers. Furthermore, the CMA have indicated a particular
focus on the effects of the merger on pricing and innovation.’
A new landmark study from the UK food and drink supply chain suggests that up to a third of UK horticultural businesses would be ‘unviable’ without access to EU workers, while 17 per cent would consider locating overseas in their search for labour.
Produced by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), the report claims that 20 per cent of the two million EU nationals currently living in the UK are employed by the country’s £110 billion food and drink industry.
Nigel Jenny, FPC CEO, commented, “The fresh produce industry provides a diverse range of food & flowers all year round to our multicultural nation. The report highlights the sector’s major concerns regarding availability of labour and highlights the serious consequences of failure.
“Food security and the ongoing supply of safe, affordable food must be a critical element of UK Government’s Brexit delivery plan. As a sector we depend on our committed workforce, and we need government to provide clear assurances to our EU workers and UK businesses. This is now time critical to safeguard future supply of fresh produce and flowers!”
The report also revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of businesses surveyed said EU nationals were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty surrounding their future.
Ian Wright CBE, Director General of the Food & Drink Federation, added: “Food is a matter of national security, so the results of this report are of central concern to businesses across the ‘farm to fork’ industries. It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores. Without our dedicated and valued workforce we would be unable to feed the nation. This is why it is imperative that we receive assurances from Government about their future, and that of our wider workforce.”
Photo Caption: The new report highlights labour issues in the food chain
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), the National Farmers Union of England and Wales (NFU) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), has issued a joint statement to Government officials highlighting its core objectives and priorities for UK trade policy ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50 to leave the European Union on 29 March.
In the statement, the signatories said, ‘The UK’s food supply chain – farmers, food and drink manufacturers and retailers – keeps the nation fed, ensuring consumers have access to a wide range of nutritional, quality foods at affordable prices. As the process of leaving the EU develops, the food supply chain will work together to ensure that our consumers continue to enjoy great quality, choice and value.
‘The UK food supply chain employs 3.9m people from farming through manufacturing to retail and food service and generates £108bn in value.’
Amongst their demands, was a call to ensure ‘a smooth and orderly Brexit by agreeing transitional arrangements that maintain frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU, avoiding costly and disruptive customs checks, processes and procedures.’ They also said there the UK should secure its fair share of any tariff rate quotas for agricultural imports and any preferential access for UK food and drink exports.