The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) wants the UK to remain part of the European Union (EU), as 71% of its members “overwhelmingly endorse” staying in Europe.
In June this year, UK voters will decide whether they want to stay in or leave the EU.
Until now, the FDF has remained tactfully silent on the subject, but this week, Ian Wright, its director general, said: “I am delighted that our executive committee felt strongly that we should have a clear point of view on the most important issues facing our industry. Few are more important than the EU referendum and our point of view is clear – the UK should remain a member.”
But the 71% quoted is not as comprehensive a sway as it might seem – there was only a 50% response rate to the poll. Of those who responded, 17% preferred not to express an opinion, and 12% wanted out of Europe.
Wright said the group completely respected the decision of those who voted no, adding that it did not speak on behalf of any single member company.
Last week, the Food Collaboration Council (FCC) published a report in which it urged the UK to “wake up to the enormity of unravelling 43 years of co-negotiated food legislation”.
Britain’s food manufacturing sector would be particularly hard hit in the event of an exit, it said, as it is more heavily dependent on a European workforce with over one-quarter (26.9%) hailing from the EU. It also warned of inevitable rises in food prices, due to a weak pound raising the cost of imports.
The report said: “Brits need to stop joking about wine lakes, bent bananas and myths from the EU past, which have been sorted, and get real about security of food supply today and tomorrow.”
Last month, a clutch of leading food firms joined nearly 200 business leaders in saying leaving the European Union would threaten jobs and put the UK’s economy at risk.