Brexit branding backlash as 1 in 5 say ‘no’

  • Post last modified:February 22, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

One in five people say they are less likely to buy Brexit-branded ‘Not for EU’ produce in a fresh blow for farmers – as new rules around food labelling continue to be rolled out, and Rishi Sunak tries to woo farmers.

Not for EU: ‘disgusting’

As Politico reported:

Since October last year, all meat and some dairy products moving from Great Britain to be sold in Northern Ireland have been required to carry the labels. The move, introduced as part of the Windsor Framework between the U.K. and EU, is meant to ensure goods aren’t moved onward into the Republic of Ireland, an EU member country.

But the British government is going further.

From October 2024, all meat and dairy products sold across the U.K. will also have to carry the labels, to ensure food sold in Great Britain can also be sold in Northern Ireland. The requirement will be applied to more products from July 2025.

Politico noted that some shoppers were left ‘confused’ and in some cases ‘disgusted’ by the labelling. Now, new polling commissioned by campaign group Best for Britain reveals the extent of the backlash against it.

Not for one in five of us

The poll of 1,027 people undertaken by Survation on behalf of Best for Britain suggests that hard-pressed British farmers and retailers could face new and unforced financial strain from a lack of consumer confidence caused by the government’s Brexit deal.

The survey found that:

  • Only three in ten (28%) understand where ‘Not for EU’ products are manufactured as the government seeks to increase lower-grade agri-imports
  • Almost one in five (18%) have said they are less likely to buy products labelled ‘Not for EU’ which will be a requirement on all British meat and dairy produce from October 2024.

The poll also revealed that only three in ten (28%) understand where ‘Not for EU’ products are manufactured, suggesting confusion among consumers, something that could increase as new and one-sided trade deals with countries like Australia and New Zealand come into effect. These deals will eventually allow for limitless imports of meat to the UK from countries with lower animal welfare and food standards.

The polling delivers fresh blow for farmers facing increased financial pressures from new checks and labour shortages made worse by Brexit.

Despite these requirements being an outworking of the government’s Brexit deal, just under half (45%) of respondents think the UK government is responsible for the new labels, and their negative impact on consumer confidence.

Not for farmers: Sunak getting desperate

A separate study by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) found that ‘Not for EU’ labelling will pose a significant risk to UK exporters.

The data has been published as the PM seeks to claw back support among rural communities following significant by-election defeats and worrying polling for the Conservatives in traditional Tory heartlands.

Speaking at the National Farmers Union (NFU) conference, Sunak underlined his commitment to clear labelling despite these challenges which he helped create. When grilled on the challenges created for farmers by the threat of regulatory divergence and the lack of a SPS agreement with our largest market, Sunak – speaking three years after Brexit took effect – said:

I’ll be totally honest, it’s work in progress.

Not for EU but maybe it should be…

Naomi Smith, CEO of Best for Britain, said:

Almost every agricultural challenge has been made more difficult by Brexit and this government has continued to hammer farmers and food suppliers with terrible new trade deals which undercut British standards.

The next government must commit to a youth mobility visa scheme to tackle labour shortages, an independent board of trade to protect farmers from fire-sale trade deals, and beneficial regulatory alignment with our largest market to slash red tape.

Featured image via Flickr

Source link