Ignoring Brexit is recipe for disaster, warn Welsh food and drink leaders

Andy Richardson - Chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board

Leaders in the Welsh food and drink industry are urging small businesses to prepare for the impact of Brexit following the result of the UK General Election.

The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board (FDWIB), the designated voice of the industry established to encourage and sustain Welsh food and drink growth, believes there is a potentially significant  need for readiness and understanding surrounding Brexit among SMEs and that delays in the process around the General Election have continued to cost businesses money.

With Brexit now on the horizon, the FDWIB advises food and drink businesses to plan for the future using all available advice.

Britain’s exit from the EU is likely to have the biggest impact on smaller food and drink businesses in Wales but many SMEs in the sector have yet to access information and prepare their businesses, according to the Board.

The FDWIB works with a variety of stakeholders including industry bodies and Welsh Government and helps to ensure that Wales makes a valuable contribution to UK discussions about the future of the sector.

Speaking about the outstanding issues surrounding Brexit, FDWIB Chairman, Andy Richardson said:

“The likelihood is that the Withdrawal Agreement will be passed in Parliament now that the Government has a majority in Westminster. After a transition period sectors such as the seafood industry in Wales could see sales particularly hard hit, but we are hearing across all sectors in Wales that the impact of Brexit could make small food and drink businesses very vulnerable and impact on jobs.

“Defra and the Welsh Government have produced Brexit guidance specific to the food and drink industry and there is also an option for businesses to sign up for email alerts to receive the latest government updates about Brexit and the food and drink sector.

Mr Richardson continued: “We have also had assurances from Welsh Government that they recognise certain parts of the industry are likely to be hard hit and that there will be continued support from Welsh Government to help those vulnerable sectors to assist them in the short term.”

“As a Board we understand and recognise the extreme difficulties and frustrations experienced by many small businesses when preparing for Brexit. We urge businesses and producers to access the online and other information that is available and act on it to help to prepare their businesses as soon as possible, while we will continue to work with Government to ensure help and support is available and to keep the sector flourishing and growing.”