News

Brexit impact on food and drink

Published: 23 May 2018 10:00

Roundtable to discuss effect on sector.

Brexit could “significantly impact” the cost and quality of the food and drink consumed in Scotland, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell warned ahead of a meeting with industry representatives.

Mr Russell will speak at a roundtable featuring figures from across the sector and chaired by Food Standards Scotland Chair Ross Finnie. The event in Edinburgh will focus on the practical challenges of getting products to market after the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Russell said:

“The Scottish Government believes that leaving the single market and customs union risks our access to Scotland’s biggest overseas food and drink export market, and there is a danger that Brexit could have a significant impact on the cost and quality of produce consumed in Scotland.

“During my meetings with food producers over the past few months it’s been clear that Brexit poses significant challenges, not least in relation to the real concerns many businesses have about attracting and retaining their workforce.

“There are also continuing questions about what kind of trading and regulatory relationship we will have with the EU after the UK leaves.

“This underlines why the Scottish Parliament must retain control over devolved matters such as food standards, labelling and safety – to maintain Scotland’s high standards – and why the Parliament voted overwhelmingly not to consent to the Withdrawal Bill as it currently stands.

“This roundtable is an opportunity for Scottish businesses to discuss the practical impacts of Brexit, whether that is market access, protecting employees, future customs arrangements or protecting the value and reputation of our produce.”

Ross Finnie, Food Standards Scotland Chair said:

“Food Standards Scotland’s view is that any change in food regulations as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU should not cause Scottish consumers to experience any reduction in Scotland’s high standards of food safety and food authenticity, or any change to the provision of healthy eating advice for people living in Scotland.

“Internal markets can operate effectively with a mixture of shared and differing rules. Intervening in the market for reasons of public interest, such as the protection of public health, is a long-established principle and should not be compromised.

“It is our firm belief that Food Standards Scotland is best placed to ensure the continued protection of public health in Scotland in relation to food.”

Background:

Also due to speak at the roundtable are James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, and Professor Russel Griggs, Chairman of the Regulatory Review Group, who will present initial findings on three key product journeys to better understand the regulatory consequences of Brexit.

In 2017, food exports to the European Union were valued at approximately £1.1 billion which represented 68% of Scotland’s overseas food exports.