Belfast Telegraph

Hard Brexit could affect our recipes says sandwich maker Greencore

By John Mulligan

The world's biggest sandwich maker, Irish firm Greencore, is ready to stockpile ingredients in the UK and change recipes in the event of a hard Brexit that could hit supply lines, according to the managing director of its UK business.

As well as the warning from UK managing director Peter Hayden, group chief executive Patrick Coveney has also said it might initiate some supply line changes before Christmas as uncertainty prevails about whether Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to get her Brexit plan past Parliament next week.

Greencore has contracts with a number of major supermarket chains such as Marks & Spencer, and with other customers in the UK, and imports about 20% of the raw materials it uses to make its products there.

Those materials come from both the EU and further afield, said Mr Coveney, and include packaging items as well as ingredients such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.

"The focus for us will be about securing the relatively small portion of the ingredients that we use that we get from outside the UK, in a no-deal scenario," said Mr Coveney, who is the brother of Tanaiste and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney. "We see the biggest risk area being fresh produce," added Mr Coveney in relation to Greencore's supply lines.

"A lot of the contingency planning processes… are to manage our way through potential challenges around the availability of fresh produce."

Greencore, whose primary geographic focus is now the UK after selling its US arm this year, makes about 1.5 billion sandwiches and food-to-go items such as salads every year.

Mr Coveney said Greencore has a "very measured timetable" in terms of when it will make decisions regarding the implementation of alternative supply lines.

"There will be some areas where we will make decisions to reduce risk this side of Christmas, but in others we'll make them closer to the time," he said.

There have been dire predictions about the impact of a hard Brexit on the UK's economy.

Mr Coveney said Greencore would be "resilient" in the face of an economic downturn, having endured such scenarios in the past.

"We are concerned, but what we've tried to separate is the Greencore-specific impact from the overall economic impact," he said. "Based on history, these products are pretty resilient to economic circumstances."

Belfast Telegraph

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