Opinion: Chris Mack talks Brexit

The international marketing magazine for fresh produce buyers in Europe
Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

@michaelbarker

Opinion: Chris Mack talks Brexit

Fresca chairman on how the referendum result has complicated the lives of suppliers

Opinion: Chris Mack talks Brexit

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Although I could be extremely critical of the EU, it is a reality and only now are people beginning to understand the implications of what has happened following the referendum.

As a business we are truly international, both in terms of trade, outlook and in respect of the people that work in Fresca. 

In common with virtually all of the food industry and many other parts of our economy, we are very dependent on people who have come to the UK to work for us - not just from within the EU but from third countries such as South Africa, South America and elsewhere.  

This is not just in the fields, glasshouses and packhouses, but right through our business up to board level. For those without UK passports and a right to reside here, the uncertainty in respect of their future status is unsettling for them, to say the least. As a business we will provide all our people with whatever support we can.

The other short-term challenge that we have to face is the weakness of the pound. This obviously pushes up the cost of imported produce and transport. It will be interesting to see if retailers pass these increased costs on to the consumer. With many products being in pretty short supply at the moment, growers will certainly not accept lower prices. 

We must assume that if the pound has weakened on a long-term basis, UK production of fresh produce will just have received a boost against our competition - if we have the labour to grow and harvest it!

And then we have the question of trade agreements. Well of course I am old enough to remember how we handled trade before the Single Market, but I think that for sure we are now facing a prolonged period of uncertainty, not only in relation to our trade with the EU but also third countries with whom the UK (or England) will have to write new deals.

One thing is sure - the business has just become more complicated, but I have always said that the more complicated things are, the more value we add in the supply chain making things work! 

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