The long-term effects of last summer’s ‘Brexit’ vote are almost impossible to predict in terms of our relationship with the European Union but the one already visible by-product is the weakening in the pound.
The falling pound creates problems for food and drink producers reliant on imported ingredients or materials but for businesses which can source more locally, it can make their products more attractive to an export market.
Likewise if the pound continues to weaken, imported food and drink becomes more expensive and so locally grown and produced products will become more attractive to consumers. Ten years ago local food and drink was seen as an ‘alternative’ product and buying it took a special effort on the part of consumers. Now local products are increasingly reaching ‘mainstream’ outlets including supermarkets, a process which may be accelerated by Brexit.
As lawyers working with several innovative food and drink businesses, we have certainly been providing commercial property and commercial advice to safeguard our clients’ interests and to mediate their relationships with the larger operators that they are working with.
In terms of artisan or luxury goods, local producers may also benefit from a bigger domestic holiday market. The weaker pound is making the UK more attractive as a holiday destination and more people may decide to take more “staycations”. This may mean more local products being included in welcome packs in local hotels or holiday lets, or as discretionary purchases by visitors. Likewise retail food and drink hubs could help producers to get their products out to the widest possible market post-Brexit.
The UK’s exit from the EU may also encourage our producers to explore markets further afield. Of course this was happening before the referendum but if the pound continues to weaken, it could accelerate. Emerging markets have been importing artisan and luxury goods from our region for some time, but the shock of Brexit may encourage more producers to look at supplying potentially lucrative markets such as the Middle East or Far East.
The crucial thing from a legal perspective in all of this is for producers to ensure that their goods comply with national and international requirements, and that appropriate supply and distribution agreements are in place, as well as taking steps to protect their brand and intellectual property.
If we are looking close to home for the way forward for our food and drink producers in the uncertain post-Brexit world, we need look no further than the development of the Foodworks SW innovation centre in Weston-super-Mare.
In the years to come this exciting hub of food and drink manufacturing and expertise, based at junction 21 of the M5, will play a crucial role in enabling local producers to make the best of the opportunities presented by Brexit, both at home and abroad.
If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact Rebecca Dixon, Associate, on 0117 974 3283 or
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The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Any law quoted in this article is correct as at April 2017. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances before any action is taken. Copyright © Murrell Associates Limited, April 2017.