Foodservice Footprint F41-p3 Thank goodness I'm not Swiss Comment

Thank goodness I’m not Swiss

Two referendums in two years – thank goodness I’m not Swiss (180 votes in 20 years) because I couldn’t cope. But thanks to the June 23rd vote to leave the European Union there could be another one soon enough.

“I don’t pretend that the option of independence would be straightforward,” said Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in July. “The outlook for the UK is uncertainty, upheaval and unpredictability. In these circumstances, it may well be that the option that offers us the greatest certainty, stability and the maximum control over our own destiny is that of independence.”

Recent YouGov polling suggests the public’s reception for another independence vote is “lukewarm at best”. However, article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty hasn’t yet been triggered; doing so could well see the mood swing. Theresa May has said she won’t push the button this year. So, for now at least, the political commentators can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that they won’t want for things to write about.

Which brings me to this issue of Footprint. Brexit has understandably dominated the news – mainstream, trade and consumer – for the past three months. And yet food and environmental issues rarely got a look-in. Professor Tim Lang, the director of the centre for food policy at City University London, noted in March that the decision to leave or remain was not simply a choice about farming: “The decision will affect the entire UK food system.”

There could be massive upheaval ahead for your businesses. We have therefore enlisted six experts to analyse the key areas of concern (admittedly these are also moveable feasts). Everything from food labelling laws and employment models to food prices and waste regulations could be affected.

In Scotland, where 62% of the public voted to remain in the EU, the climate change secretary wasted no time in reassuring those concerned that Brexit could turn back the clock on years of environmental progress.

“We will be doing our absolute utmost to protect our position as climate change leaders, to continue to play the role that we have been playing
in contributing to EU-wide environmental policies, and to make sure that we maintain, protect and advance our own environment,” said Roseanna Cunningham.

With respect to Westminster policymaking, it’s increasingly hard to see the wood when the trees are being chopped. This month’s Political Print has a rundown, but the big news is that DECC, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is no more (its final move seemingly a last-minute snip to some renewable heat incentive schemes). The portfolios have moved to the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Great news for the green agenda or an opportunity to dilute environmental laws? This issue’s briefing page has the lowdown.

Brexit aside, life goes on, and there has been no shortage of other news and issues in the past eight weeks. Burgers have been a focus: Byron had a mission on its hands after a series of immigration raids, while in New York Impossible Foods’ meat-free burger that “bleeds” arrived on Momofuku Nishi’s menu. Writing for Footprint, the Good Food Institute’s Emily Byrd offers a convincing argument that this could be a tipping point for plant-based menus: “The push to include more meatless items on the menu holds true not only for upscale or health-focused restaurants, but for fast food too.”

Speaking of health, campaigners moved quickly to bash a leaked draft of the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy. “Pathetic” was how Action on Sugar reacted to the policies. And, perhaps more cuttingly: “It is the same Responsibility Deal take two.” The PM’s spokesman has since confirmed that the strategy probably won’t appear before the autumn. Just in time for Footprint October … perhaps.

David Burrows is editor of Footprint magazine