Steering the sector post-Brexit


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08 June 2023
The role of the UK Potato Processors' Association (PPA) has never been more important than it is today says Deputy Director General.

THE role of the UK Potato Processors' Association (PPA) has never been more important than it is today, according to Deputy Director General Vanessa Richardson.

The British savoury snacks market remains the biggest in Europe, and, with the advent of Brexit, is now distancing itself from EU rules and trading regulations.

Representing crispers and chippers, the organisation is a member of the European trade bodies ESA (European Snacks Association) and EUPPA (European Potato Processors' Association). 

Vanessa says this enables it to keep track of developments in EU markets, many of which still greatly impact on the UK.

"Brexit has presented some unprecedented challenges for our industry, which were aggravated by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine," said Vanessa. She went on to add: "Our close relationship with ESA and EUPPA gives us the ability to advise our members (and often the government itself as some access to EU discussions have been lost) of the wider commercial environment and regulatory developments in the EU."

PPA has been closely monitoring developments on plant protection products. Vanessa said risk assessments, authorisations and setting of limits are happening at different speeds in the UK and EU and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has seen its remit expand dramatically.

"Other key areas we are having to deal with are acrylamide, official controls, labelling, additives and flavouring. Unfortunately there are more to come," she said. "It is increasingly challenging."

The biggest UK-specific challenges looming for the sector are the imminent scrapping of around 600 EU laws, she said.

"This is of great concern to us as our food law in the UK is almost completely based on EU law. The potential for error, the magnitude of the work and the speed at which it needs to be concluded, is great.

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"Other areas are the labelling implications of the proposed Windsor Framework for goods sold in Northern Ireland, the Food Data Transparency Partnership and, of course, the Internal Market Act and regulatory divergence within the UK."

Precision breeding and gene editing, as well as restrictions on the promotion of 'less healthy' foods also have the potential to 'diverge' she said.

On the whole, both the UK and EU are working towards the same environmental goals but the approaches being taken are different, with the UK struggling to comply with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) while the EU is working on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, Vanessa said.

The most recent success to be celebrated by the association was UK authorisation of the acive substance 1,4-DMN, a key substance used for storing processing potatoes. The potato processing sector was also the only one to achieve realistic calorie reduction targets with UK government proposals on calorie and salt reduction.

With new challenges surrounding precision genetic engineering and the loss of active substances, the association is playing a pivotal role, said Vanessa.

"The sector needs eyes, ears and a strong voice at both an EU and UK level to ensure that businesses are able to navigate through the red tape and continue to do business. We are here to help deliver that. The association has a strong future as long as there are issues and the willpower to address them.

Source: Snacks

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