Posted: 04/08/2021

View from HQ: “One or two ‘pings’ in our trade and the business needs to close”

View from HQ

It’s Costa del UK again this year for us. We’re taking ‘staycation’ perhaps too literally by not getting on a plane, train, ferry or even in the car. It’s more of a ‘homecation’. 

I’ve always quietly struggled with holidaymakers who insist on travelling to sunny southern Europe and then expect a British pint or fry up. Those people will be better off in Blighty this year, as judging by the Food & Drink Federation’s recent figures, there’s barely any British produce exported to the EU anymore. I continue to marvel at Westminster’s spin on this one, as they have repeatedly told us that all is well, but a 47% drop in exports to the EU compared to the same (first) quarter last year is shocking. 

Our erstwhile biggest trading partner, Ireland, had a 70.6% fall in export value of £307.4m to £90.5m from February 2020 to 2021. Only whisky showed a gain in the entire top 10 of products exported to the EU; the dairy sector has been slammed with cheese down 64.6% and milk & cream down a whopping (or whipping?) 96.4%.

This is truly concerning and add the argument from a previous rant that it is largely the bigger businesses who are still exporting, this serves only to paint a rather homogenised picture of our food and drink credentials to the EU. 

Further monolith love was announced last week as larger-scale food producers and supermarket distribution hubs were exempt from self-isolating from the ‘Pingdemic’. ‘Pingpong’ more like, as this smells a little rotten and anti-SME again. I get that we need to isolate to prevent spreading the virus, but it seems arse about face to lift mask regs and social distancing while at the same time grinding the economy to a halt because of a dysfunctional track and trace app. 

I’m with Andrew Goodacre of the British Independent Retailers Association who wants legislation to consider the independents too. One or two pings in our trade and the whole business needs to close as that’s the entire workforce sat at home – doubly annoying as they’ll likely spend their summer holiday there, too. 

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