Food and drink groups have put forward recommendations for trade negotiations after the UK leaves the European Union.

Organisations from across the UK food and drink supply chain have launched a policy paper outlining how government should develop future trade policy.

The paper has been developed by the Food and Drink Industry Brexit Roundtable, convened by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and the separate arable and livestock stakeholder groups that are advising the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Key recommendations in the paper focus on trade policy priorities, and include:

  • Giving business time to adapt to changes in competitive positioning arising from the creation of new trade agreements
  • Thought being given to the benefits and costs of choosing to move away from existing regulatory technical standards
  • Encouraging job creation and value addition in every region of the UK by prioritising agri-food
  • Retaining the UK’s ability to deliver high standards at competitive consumer prices
  • Encouraging sustainable food production, while diminishing environmental impacts.

They also flag up concerns over Rules of Origin and ensuring these are tailored to meet the needs of the industry.

UK food and drink products often contain a mix of domestic and international ingredients that would mean, under existing models of Rules of Origin applied by the EU, many UK products would not qualify for preferential tariffs agreed in any post-Brexit trade deal

“Food and drink businesses operate throughout the UK, creating jobs and income for people in every constituency,” said Alex Waugh, chairman of the Brexit Arable Group and director general of the National Association of British and Irish Flour Millers.

“That is why we want to work with government to ensure we have the right policies to make a success of the UK’s independent status, maintain our high food standards, improve our ability to deliver sustainably produced food at competitive prices and ensure these benefits are felt throughout the country.”

FDF chief executive Ian Wright, chair of the Food and Drink Roundtable, added that the food and drink industry was committed to working with government and the devolved administrations on the development of detailed plans and practical solutions post-Brexit.

“No industry is more uniquely placed to deliver the benefits of trade to every UK community,” he said. “Together, our supply chain produces, packages, distributes and sells a wide range of food and drink at every price point, more than ever before, in every corner of the UK.”