Among the 26 signatories of the agreement were bosses from the pub trade bodies the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Hospitality Association.
The letter stated the trade employs 4m people throughout the ‘farm to fork’ food chain, in every constituency in the UK.
It hailed UK food and farming as “world leading” with the products, services and brands the trade exports around the globe showcasing high quality and provenance.
The opportunities for the industry are huge but uncertainty around the shape of the UK’s exit from the EU, the future of domestic farming and fisheries production and a looming skills and workforce shortage threaten the viability of businesses, the letter warned.
It also called for complex relationships when it comes to “deeply interwoven” trading ties with the EU to be handled with patience and care because any abrupt change would have enormous consequences for the industry, its employees and for the choice and availability of food in this country.
The trade leaders offered their expertise to deliver the following 10 outcomes:
- Avoid any ‘cliff edge’ by securing an adequate interim and transitional period to help prepare for a new relationship with the EU.
- Quickly negotiate the right to remain for the trade’s valuable EU workforce and their families.
- Recognise the unique nature of the country’s relationship with Ireland by agreeing a series of special solutions on workforce, regulation and borders.
- Deliver continued zero-tariff and friction-less trade across borders in both directions to give consumers the choice they expect, at a price they can afford.
- Maintain consumer confidence in UK food safety and authenticity through a stable, equivalent regulatory framework to ensure seamless trade.
- Work with the bodies to develop home-grown talent and consult the organisations fully over the needs of industry ahead of any new migration scheme.
- Support the trade’s ambition for an industrial strategy sector deal to harness the industry’s growth potential and improve productivity.
- Turbocharge exports support to help smaller food and drink businesses take advantage of new opportunities in order to grow the sector’s share of global trade.
- Provide a competitive supply base and ensure reforms to UK farm support – and to fisheries management – take full account of the needs of the rural and coastal communities, planning and investment horizons.
- Maintain the UK as the destination of choice for multinational food and drink companies and encourage inward investment to benefit local communities.
Signatories include Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright; British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen; Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association executive director Michael Bell; Council for Responsible Nutrition UK chair Nick Bennett; Federation of Wholesale Distributors chief executive James Bielby; Seed Crushers and Oil Processors Association secretary general Angela Bowden; Association of Labour Providers chief executive David Camp; Seasoning & Spice Association chairman Simon Cripps; and UK Tea and Infusions Association chairman Bill Gorman.
It was also signed by British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths; Potato Processors’ Association and the Snack, Nut and Crisp Manufacturers Association director general Sharon Hall; British Frozen Food Federation chief executive John Hyman; Confederation of Paper Industries director general Andrew Large; British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim; and Health Food Manufacturers’ Association executive director Graham Keen.
Provision Trade Federation director general Andrew Kuyk; British Oats and Barley Millers Association chairman James Mathers; International Meat Processors Association chief executive Liz Murphy; Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls; British Specialist Nutrition Association director general Declan O’Brien; Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson; The Packaging Federation chief executive Dick Searle; British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds; Proprietary Association of Great Britain chief executive John Smith; National Association of Cider Makers chief executive Fenella Tyler; and National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers director general Alexander Waugh, also signed the letter.