Company warns of Brexit disaster for food industry

The founder of one of the UK's largest food manufacturers has warned that Britain leaving the European Union could spell disaster for its food industry.

Fox's Biscuits on the production line. (d625e342)

Entrepreneur Ranjit Singh Boparan, founder and chief executive of 2 Sisters Food Group, which owns Yorkshire-based Fox’s Biscuits, issued a rallying call for the UK to vote to remain in the EU.

Mr Boparan said: “A vote to the leave the EU has the potential to decimate the British food industry.

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“It’s already a tough environment; highly-labour intensive, high volume, producing very low cost products for low margins, and operating in a deflationary market.

JOHN LONGWORTH: Any service sector business in Yorkshire is constrained by EU

“The additional challenges Brexit could create for my industry will put many businesses at risk and I don’t think that’s a risk worth taking.”

2 Sisters employees 23,000 at 45 sites in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands and Poland, supplying a third of all poultry consumed in the UK. The company owns brands like Fox’s Biscuits and Goodfella’s Pizza.

Mr Boparan believes that uncertainty created by a Brexit would lead to a reduction in consumer spending.

Access to labour and the single market are other reasons highlighted by Mr Boparan for staying in the EU ahead of the referendum on June 23.

JOHN LONGWORTH: Any service sector business in Yorkshire is constrained by EU

In contrast the former head of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) John Longworth said Yorkshire’s economy would be boosted by a Brexit. Mr Longworth resigned as BCC chief after he was suspended from the organisation for expressing his support for a Brexit. The BCC’s official line was that it would not campaign either way.

Mr Longworth has since taken an active role with the Vote Leave campaign.

During a visit to Leeds last week he said the services sector, which makes up the bulk of the region’s businesses, would be better off if Britain were to leave the EU.

The founder and chairman of pub giant JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin has also come out in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

Mr Martin said that the EU was “non-democratic in so many ways”.

He will be visiting the chain’s pubs to convince punters that voting out is the best option.

Meanwhile, Ryanair, which is in favour of staying in the EU, has come under fire from Vote Leave for offering expatriate Britons cheap tickets to come home and vote to stay in the bloc.

The Irish airline has been actively campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU, spending €25,000 on adverts urging customers to vote to stay in Europe and warning that it might withdraw some investment from Britain if the leave campaign was to win.