CEO’s Weekly News for 15th July 2019

Dear all,

Weekly News for this week includes:

  • FDF Brexit Update from Ian Wright
  • Barclays Economic Update
  • EU Guidance on Date Marking
  • Efeca UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil Webinar 25 July 2019
  • Livestream Global Britain Conference 2019

Have a good week.

Gordon Polson, Chief Executive – FOB Limited

FDF Brexit Update from Ian Wright: Last week’s FDF’s Parliamentary Reception on the Terrace of the House of Commons brought together the leading lights of the UK food and drink industry.  Our top political speakers – Michael Gove and his Labour Shadow Sue Hayman – both spoke eloquently of their support for our industry – and over 50 parliamentarians signed up to our pledge board. We had decided to do our best to look beyond the current Brexit impasse. We chose to focus on how our future should look and what FDF needs to do to lead the industry to achieve this objective. Our Plan for Success is the result of a major collaboration between more than 30 organisations across the food and drink industry.

The following day, FDF’s President’s Committee convened its Summer meeting. The Committee brings together the most senior managers of our members. The Committee looked at the impact for the industry of a new Prime Minister and government team – now just a week away. Our conclusion was that – despite the interminable leadership campaign – we still don’t really know which Boris will show up in government. Will it be the liberal Mayor of London or the Donald Trump manqué of recent weeks? Will we see a free spending interventionist administration or one which cuts taxes and attacks the nanny state? We don’t know who will be in the Cabinet but we might guess that Greg Clark, David Gaulle, Phillip Hammond, possibly Jeremy Hunt and David Mundell will be out. Could they be joined by Liam Fox and Chris Grayling in the biggest resetting of the same party’s government for years.

Most importantly, we don’t know whether we will have Boris making no-deal his preferred policy option to wall up support against the Brexit Party, whether he will extend the hand of friendship to Nigel Farage or whether he will tack back to the centre on the Nixon in China principle that only he can be trusted to do a deal with Brussels. Jayne Almond, Tim Rycroft and I will be offering our analysis of the significance for the course of Brexit (and the Obesity Strategy, food waste, packaging and much else) of the first moves of the Johnson Government in another FDF webinar on Tuesday 30 July, with sign up details coming to you imminently.

With so much uncertainty, it was revealing that in his speech at the FDF reception Michael Gove, made a loud plea for the food and drink industry to make its view known to the new Government on the grisly consequences of a no-deal exit. I can promise him – and you – that we will be doing so from Day One.

Uncertainty abounds. In these times, the job of the FDF is to be the loud and unequivocal voice for the industry and its concerns. It is a task we are honoured to undertake and which we relish


Barclays Economic Update: Interpreting policy signals in the UK: Investors have struggled with much weaker than expected data, as well as interpreting the communication from the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee).

Mark Carney, the governor of Bank of England highlighted the recent shift in the expected paths of policy rates across developed markets. However, he also went on to reiterate the MPC’s official stance, which was conditional upon a smooth Brexit progress that the bank would focus on medium-term inflation dynamics. Additionally, UK would still require limited and gradual increases in interest rates. It is expected that the bank will downgrade its global and domestic growth forecasts in the august inflation report for 2019. Although, if a more persistent slowdown becomes more evident, there are risks for easier monetary policy in 2020, potentially at the feb’20 meeting.

Barclays identified a worrying signal in anecdotal evidence that some EU (European Union) companies have diverted supply chains away from the UK. Construction PPMI experienced the steepest rate of decrease in output since apr’09 with a sharp decrease in new orders as political uncertainty was cited as a key concern. Services PMI also declined and is now only marginally above neutral growth level of 50. New export orders declined by c.3 points, while new business took a further dip as the volume of new work to replace completed projects continued to decline for the ninth consecutive month. Respondents attributed this with risk aversion related to ongoing Brexit uncertainty as well as the general subdued domestic economic backdrop. together with the deterioration of manufacturing and construction PMIs, composite PMIs were dragged down into contractionary territory at 49.7. This is in line with Barclays’ forecast of a 0.2% (q/q) decrease in q2’19 GDP.

The Conservative party leadership contest has yet to conclude but investor focus has already shifted towards the prospect of a general election before end of 2019. While voting intentions remain fragmented, it seems unlikely that the new PM of the UK would voluntarily risk calling for an election, unless there is a strong recovery in popularity for the Conservative party. However, if the party fails to pass an amended version of the Withdrawal Agreement it could call a general election in order to obtain a mandate from the people to leave the EU with or without a deal.

EU Guidance on Date Marking: By this e-mail we want to inform you about the current state of play concerning the development of the EU guidance on date marking and related food information.

The Task Force, set up for this purpose, met twice in 2018 in order to support drafting of the guidance. In carrying out this work, it became apparent that scientific advice from EFSA would be beneficial in order to support food business operators in taking a risk-based approach, focussed on ensuring food safety, when making decisions about date marking. Such a risk-based approach can help guide decisions regarding  the type of date marking to be used (i.e. “use by” vs “best before”) as well as when setting product shelf-life and identifying related information to provide on labelling.

The Commission has therefore sent a mandate requesting a scientific opinion from EFSA to be delivered in 2 stages (first part related to factors that should guide FBOs in choosing between UB and BB dates by end September 2020 (EFSA-Q-2019-00438), and a second part including other labelling aspects by end March 2021 (EFSA-Q-2019-00439)). You will find the mandate to EFSA asking for their scientific advice at this link:

Pending EFSA’s scientific advice, the development of the guidance is put on hold. We will provide you more information on this matter in the forthcoming meeting of 9th of October.

Efeca, conveners of the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil, have organised a webinar on Thursday 25 July, 11am – 12pm titled ‘An environmental crisis: The role of sustainable palm oil and why removing palm oil is not the solution’. The full details, and how to RSVP, can be found below.

In response to the high coverage of agricultural risk commodities such as palm oil in the media, there is a strong need to work collectively together and change the narrative on sustainable palm oil. Efeca would like to invite you to a complimentary 1-hour webinar followed by a question and answer session. The webinar is aimed at representatives across the supply chain who want to understand more about palm oil and why removing palm oil is not the solution. The objective of this webinar will be to discuss the high-risk commodities contributing to deforestation, examine the issues and misconceptions surrounding palm oil and to raise awareness on the alternatives to palm oil.

The webinar will cover some of the key sustainability issues surrounding different commodities, with a strong focus on palm oil, topics include:

A brief overview of agricultural risk commodities and their environmental impacts

  • Why is palm oil the most widely used vegetable oil?
  • Chemistry composition
  • Functionality
  • The drivers behind removing and/or substituting palm oil
  • Is there a feasible alternative to palm oil?
  • Why the role of sustainable palm oil is key to change
  • Current progress towards sustainable palm oil within the industry

Please share and advertise this webinar amongst your members and colleagues.

Further details about joining the meeting will be provided once you have registered to attend. To RSVP, please email




LIVESTREAM: Global Britain Conference 2019

“Exploring Agricultural Export Opportunities” 

Date: 22 October 2019, 10.00 – 14.00
We are pleased to bring back this popular and timely event, just before the 31 October, Brexit deadline.

This year, we invite the agricultural sector to join our livestream service.

The agricultural marketplace has adeptly negotiated uncertainty since the 2016 referendum. The answers may not be any closer but this event will look to address some key trade and export questions.

Last year, we provided a platform for Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade to reassure the agri-food sector of trading relationships and equal food standards from imports.

The new programme will feature speakers from around the globe to share insight on what we could be facing in the medium term.

We will present the global export outlook for UK Agriculture and investigate the international opportunities and how we can turn them into a commercial reality.

Programme and speaker announcements will follow soon, please book your place in the meantime.