FDF urges Chancellor to support food and drink industry

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

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The UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is urging the UK Chancellor
of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, to support the food and drink
industry in his first budget.

The food industry is the UK's largest manufacturing sector. FDF says that its members are responsible for generating £21bn (€27bn) of Gross Value Added to the UK food chain each year. The FDF also estimates that the sector employs and provides career opportunities for almost 470,000 people. Melanie Leech, FDF Director General, said in a statement that specific actions that would help the industry include: "a freeze on further fuel duty increases; clear leadership on closing theUK's skills gap; and measures that promote the better regulation agenda across Government and its agencies​." On a more general note, she said that with the UK economy slowing, and consumers becoming nervous about the global credit crunch and inflation, the Chancellor must not do anything to undermine the performance of a sector: "that provides core economic stability to theUK​." She urged the Government not to place further burdens on business nor undermine the UK's reputation as an attractive place in which to invest. She said that this reputation had already been tarnished by the "much-criticised proposals​" for changes to capital gains taxation, which caused particular concerns among small to medium businesses, the backbone of the food industry. Green Issues ​ The FDF is actively promoting measures to create a greener UK food industry. Therefore, if, as expected, the Chancellor announces a green budget, the FDF would support any measures to help the industry meet the "five pillars​" of the Federation's environmental programme. The FDF hopes to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010 compared with 1990 and to aspire to a 30 per cent reduction by 2020. Also, to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill from 2015, make a contribution to WRAP's work to achieve a reduction in the level of packaging reaching households by 2010 compared with 2005, and provide more advice to customers on how best to recycle or recover used packaging. Finally, the FDF hopes to be able to contribute to a reduction in water use in the industry by 20 per cent by 2020 compared with 2007, embed environmental standards in transport practices and contribute to an absolute target for the food chain to reduce its environmental and social impacts by 20 per cent by 2012 compared with 2002. To this end, Leech urges the Chancellor to announce major investment in the UK's waste treatment infrastructure. But cautions: "he should not do anything such as increasing duty differentials that may encourage more food to go into the production of first generation biofuels and give rise to potential conflicts with food supply​." The Chancellor's budget speech to the House of Commons will take place on Wednesday March 12 at 12.30pm. A transcript of the speech, full report and associated documents will be available at the treasury website www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

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