Food and drink wholesale is a critical part of the British economy. Food and drink wholesale distribution is a sector in its own right, turning over £29 billion, employing nearly 60,000 people and generating gross value added of £3 billion annually. Wholesalers’ depots are located in all regions and devolved nations to distribute goods to independent retailers and caterers in local communities.
There are a number of issues which pose challenges to the future success of the sector including the impending exit from the European Union, food inflation and the automation of manual roles. FWD are already working, along with our businesses in the sector to ensure that we and the sector are well placed to manage the challenges posed by Brexit.
One of the really key challenges for our labour intensive industry will be ensuring a good and skilled workforce. Many wholesalers employ high number of European Migrant workers. It will be critical to us to ensure this supply of labour.
Over 90 per cent of the value of direct purchases by food and drink wholesale distributors are from suppliers in the United Kingdom. However, the food and drink manufacturers that they purchase from import a much larger share of their goods and 70 per cent of their imports come from the European Union. As such, the sector would be best served by a comprehensive trade deal after Brexit which keeps tariffs or trade barriers to a minimum.
If there is no deal agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union and trade is conducted under World Trade Organisation rules it will be essential to ensure tariffs imposed under these rules aren’t overly burdensome. The sectors which they will affect most are related to food, drinks and tobacco. If a free trade agreement is not reached then the food and drink wholesale distribution sector will face further upward pressure on their suppliers’ prices.
Aug 23: The Government has produced guidance for how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
This technical notices explain the current progress in negotiations and the unlikely circumstances in which a no deal scenario might materialise. The aim is to prepare the UK for this outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit in all scenarios.
Key points to note from the first wave:
The Government has published its White paper which gives proposals for Brexit and addresses the future relationship between the UK and EU
The White Paper sets out how the Government will implement the final Withdrawal Agreement we reach with the EU in UK law. It confirms that the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will be the primary means by which the rights of EU citizens will be protected in UK law; legislate for the time-limited implementation period; and, create a financial authority to manage the specific payments to be made under the financial settlement, with appropriate Parliamentary oversight.
Food issues are mentioned throughout the document, well over 30 times throughout the 104-pages. The Government will seek to establish a new free trade area and maintain a common rulebook for goods, including food. The Government wants the the UK and the EU to have no-friction access to each other’s markets for goods, including food and fisheries products.
Following the Government’s commitment to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK (and UK nationals in the EU), details of how EU citizens will be able to apply for settled status has been published here Settled status gives individuals and families, who have lived in the UK for 5 years or more, the right to continue living in the UK indefinitely, with access to public services, even under a “no deal” scenario. The Settled Status scheme will be rolled out by March 2019.
The Home Office has launched a communications toolkit for employers.