Jun
24

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Industry reaction as Britain votes to leave EU in shock referendum result

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Industry has reacted with mixed opinions following the shock news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union.

It was announced that the country had voted 52 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union, compared to 48 per cent who voted to remain.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Health Food Business spoke to key industry organisations.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said there was a need for stability for UK small business, following news of the result and the resignation of Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the FSB, said: “The events of the last 24 hours have been momentous and the effects have already been seen on the markets. Clearly the EU Referendum debate has been contentious, but we now call on the Government and all parties to bring stability for the business community.

“FSB calls on the Government for clarity on what these decisions now mean for business, including how businesses will have access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade. Nearly a quarter of FSB members export, with the majority exporting to the single market. Access to the single market means access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth 11 trillion euros. We call on the Government for clarity on the impact to smaller firms who export wider afield through EU FTA agreements.”

He added: “These are crucial questions that need to be answered swiftly to ensure the UK’s 5.4 million small business confidence does not fall any further, which is already at the lowest levels since 2013.This includes clarity over the practical implications of this result on how smaller firms do business.

FSB will continue to be a constructive partner in any upcoming negotiations, ensuring the voice of smaller firms is heard loud and clear.”

Graham Keen, HFMA Executive Director, told Health Food Business: “Like most people, I am extremely surprised by this result. And like everyone else, we will now evaluate the implications of this decision for our members and this industry. I have said all along that we should not expect to see any immmediate changes, whatever the outcome, so this should now be a period of calm reflection and not hasty decisions. There will, of course, be some impact on the future development of legislation affecting this industry and the HFMA will as always be there to guide its members in a changing time.”

Consumers for Health Choice has also commented, with Chairman, Michael Peet, saying:
“After one of the longest campaigns in memory, it’s helpful to our members that the UK has reached a decision on EU membership, bringing to an end a protracted period of uncertainty. There will be implications to consumer choice in vitamin and mineral supplements from this vote to leave, particularly in terms of how it will affect regulatory regimes governing the sector in the UK. CHC will be closely monitoring what these implications are and will ensure that the consumer voice is heard in any future discussions over the laws that govern our access to safe supplements.”

In a statement from the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS), Chairman, Gary Trickett, commented: “With this result, we can now move forward in creating a UK power house that can take on the world. The NAHS calls on the UK Government to review unnecessary, burdensome EU legislations that affect UK retailers detrimentally along with UK based issues like unfair business rates and the minimum wage. As Napoleon once said, the UK is a nation of shopkeepers, we want to be the backbone of the British economy so we will be pressing the Government to review unwanted legislation and replace them with a more business friendly model that enables this nation of shopkeepers to get on with it without drowning in red tape!”

A statement from the Irish Association of Health Stores (IAHS) to Health Food Business said: “The leave decision has huge implications for Irish retailers and possibly even greater implications for the scores of UK-based companies who supply the Irish market. While it’s not a time for panic and the timescales for actual change are now the new uncertainty, UK-based distributors will have to start thinking and talking strategies with their Irish partners.

“Non EU-based brands which use the UK as their distribution hub for Ireland will need to consider the consequences carefully. The IAHS will be carrying out one of our primary rolls for members in attempting to create clarity and certainty and this decision makes this doubly difficult. The dust will settle and a new economic landscape will emerge but the IAHS advice to members on foot of the leave decision is the same as always, think globally, act locally, maybe just to a little bit more global thinking for the next while is in order.”

From a company perspective, Steve Mann, Director of External Regulatory Affairs at Nelsons, commented: “So, Britain has voted and we’ve decided to leave the EU. I’m sure this will have come as a surprise to many, but the decision has been made and we will have to see what the future holds – assuming Parliament acts in line with the referendum result, of course.

“So, what might we expect? Well, nobody really knows, but in terms of the immediate future, nothing much is likely to happen. There will be some turmoil on the financial markets for sure, but this will likely settle down before too long. In terms of exiting the EU? Well, the process will be a long and difficult one, and is likely to take some years to complete. The EU is not something you can simply walk away from, and we will have to negotiate terms at every stage of the process. What will be the result? Who can say? Will Great Britain be stronger, or will the EU be better off without us? Only time will tell, but a new chapter is being written in our history and we can only speculate on how future generations will look back and judge our decision.”

May
27

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Retail sales fall but growth ahead forecasted

Retail sales fall but growth ahead forecasted

New data has revealed that retail sales have fallen compared to a year ago.

However, the research from the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trends Survey also predicted growth in the coming month.

The data revealed that retail sales fell at the fastest pace since January 2012 over the year to April 2016. However, sales are expected to rebound next month, while orders are set to fall at a broadly similar pace.

Meanwhile, growth in the volume of internet sales slowed in the year to April, with the survey balance falling further below the long run average. Internet sales growth is set to pick up slightly in May.

Among the findings, 22 per cent of retailers said that sales volumes were up in April on a year ago, whilst 36 per cent said they were down, giving a rounded balance of down 13 per cent. Sales growth is set to rebound in the year to May (up nine per cent), although it remains below the long-run average of 24 per cent growth.

CBI Director of Economics, Rain Newton-Smith, commented: “Cold weather put a chill in sales of spring and summer ranges, with a reported dip in retail sales in the year to April, but with the near-term outlook for household spending holding up, the sector expects a modest rise in sales next month.

“However, with margins remaining tight within the sector, retailers will continue to operate in a fiercely competitive environment for some time.”

May
27

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Bid for EU funding to promote organic submitted

Bid for EU funding to promote organic submitted

A bid to secure more than €10m for a consumer marketing campaign for organic has been submitted to the EU.

The Organic Trade Board has submitted the joint bid with Denmark, which, if successful, will run from 2017-2019. It will mean the EU will supply 80 per cent of the total cash for the activity, the remainder having been secured by pledges made by companies in the UK and Denmark.

The winning applicants will be announced in October, and it will mean an annual marketing budget of £1.7m a year for three years, which will be spent promoting organic.

May
27

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Quarter of those with food allergies suffer reactions while eating out

Quarter of those with food allergies suffer reactions while eating out

Despite new labelling rules, the Food Standards Agency has revealed that a quarter of people with food allergies suffer reactions when eating out.

The survey, by the FSA and the charity Allergy UK, shows that while improvements have been made for those with allergies since new labelling rules came in a year ago, more needs to be done. The survey also found nearly one in five (19 per cent) of those allergic reactions resulted in a hospital visit.

The survey, carried out to mark Allergy Awareness Week 2016, found that overall, 83 per cent of respondents noticed an increase in measures designed to make life easier for allergic consumers, including menus marking out allergens, and staff actively checking food information with the kitchen. More than half (58 per cent) of allergic consumers said that their overall experience of eating out has improved; just six per cent said it has got worse. As a result, a similar proportion (52 per cent) say they now feel more confident eating out than they did before the legislation was introduced.

However, people with allergies still report problems when eating out. More than two thirds (69 per cent) experienced staff not understanding the severity of an allergy, and how easily a mistake can cause a reaction. A similar number (68 per cent) saw staff with a lack of knowledge of what’s in the food. Over half (56 per cent) had been made to feel like an inconvenience due to their allergy.

Dr Chun-Han Chan, Food Allergy Expert at the FSA, commented: “The fact that allergic consumers are noticing gaps in the knowledge of people serving them makes it evident that more needs to be done by food businesses to educate their staff on allergens. The number of people suffering from food allergies and intolerances has increased in the last decade, so it’s clear that it is not something businesses can ignore.”