As Britain approaches one of its greatest pivotal political and economic moments, the decisions taken by the Governments of Europe will impact our biggest industry sector, namely food & drink and of course its associated packaging. Pro2Pac 2019, the complete processing & packaging event for the food & drink industry, running alongside the International Food & Drink Event, will seek to explore the looming and potential impact that these decisions will have on the food & drink sector and its related industries in a number of ways, including via a key panel debate on the Outside the Box stage. 

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As the deadline looms towards Brexit, set by the government to take place only a few days beyond Pro2Pac (thank you Mrs May), we will dive into this most uncomfortable of topics during a lunchtime panel debate on the Outside the Box stage with key industry sector members, to truly understand what that may mean for us all whether we be producers, brand owners or retailers. After all, food & drink is what keeps the nation going whether it be a certain brand of Danish bacon, or a glass of French wine, Italian Prosecco or German sausage. And within that packaging is a key provider. Without it, we cannot safely ship product or protect and extend its shelf life. But equally we have to be able to get the product. What will Brexit mean for us all in this context?

Let’s leave the politics, the deal, the no deal, the hard stop, the back stop, the border, no border – there are many others better qualified than this author to negotiate our way through this. But nevertheless, it is significant and we must pay attention to what may or may not happen let alone 

Will we see packaging materials or packaged products held at our borders, or rather the borders of our European counterparts? Bear in mind the paper, the metal and the glass packaging that comes through our European borders en route to our packaging manufacturers, our packer fillers and our retailers. What will happen to the pound versus the euro and the prices paid for packaging and product. What about exported packaging – after all the packaging industry in the UK ships to Europe, and of course beyond, as do all our packaged product. Take spirits for example; we import glass from France, distil the product, bottle it, and then sell it back to France. The impact is almost mind boggling.what will happen. We asked Dick Searle, Chairman of the Packaging Federation for his thoughts. “It is huge”, said Dick, who has seen more Governments and deals come and go than I have had hot dinners. Dick is clearly concerned and has raised this with the All Parliamentary Packaging Group. “We are a service industry and the impact upon our customers could well be enormous,” Dick added. I couldn’t agree more. Dick, as ever, hits the nail on the head, quickly and concisely.

Dick and his expert select panel will seek to thrash out these issues as best they can in the time available – after all it has taken the minds of several Governments months and months to reach the point of well…….whatever it is they have supposedly agreed. 

You may think that Brexit has been overdone – it’s on the tv, in the papers, on the internet, and discussed in every work place up and down the country, but this is really only the beginning. Please do come along and listen to the debate. Listen and raise your own points and ask questions of the team. It will be truly enlightening and there will be no political waffle – only tasty waffles allowed!

To answer all your food & drink processing, packaging and labelling questions, register to attend Pro2Pac here.

Robert Herridge, Managing Director, Packology Ltd.