Food and Drink Federation calls for waiving of competition laws over ‘no deal’ Brexit

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has called upon government to relax competition laws to allow businesses to coordinate supplies in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

As previously covered by Confectionery Production, the confectionery and bakery sectors stand to be significantly affected in terms of logistics and ingredient sourcing problems if the British government fails to reach a trade agreement with the EU.

Confectionery items such as Mars Bars, which source several key ingredients from European markets that have a limited shelf-life, could face production issues should no trading framework be established between the UK and the EU before the expected revised Brexit date of October 31. This has led to a number of businesses being forced to stockpile products over the past year, with ongoing uncertainty causing further impact on markets.

Mondelez International recently indicated that it had begun planning for no-deal scenarios with its operations in terms of preparing for increased logistics for its range of products, including confectionery and snacks.

FDF chairman Ian Wright has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to protect the UK’s  £4 billion food chain through ensuring adequate trading arrangements with key European trading partners.

Significant concerns have  remained surrounding product labelling, and quality control standards should Britain depart the EU without agreement. The situation has seen the value of the pound fall to its lowest level for two years against the value of the dollar.

FDF’s chief operating officer Tim Rycroft said: “Competition law is important, but in the event of no-deal disruption, if the government wants the food supply chain to work together to tackle likely shortages – to decide where to prioritise shipments – they will have to provide cast-iron written reassurances that competition law will not be strictly applied to those discussions. Without such assurances, any such collaboration would risk incurring large fines from the CMA. We asked for these reassurances at the end of last year and, despite support from Defra, we’re still waiting. Hopefully, now that Michael Gove is in charge of all no-deal planning, we can make progress.”

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