European farmers’ co-operative Arla has warned its UK business and the businesses of its 2,500 UK dairy farmer suppliers will come under severe pressure if Brexit leads to significant restrictions on free trade and quotas.
According to a report carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, Arla’s total economic footprint in the UK is valued at more than £6billion in Gross Value Added (GVA).
For every £1 of GVA generated by the company, another £14.91 is stimulated in its supply chain and in the wider economy.
The report also found that the combined business of Arla itself and its farmer suppliers directly supported more than 50,000 jobs in the UK, as well as being indirectly associated with more than 119,000 jobs in total.
Arla’s UK managing director, Tomas Pietrangeli, said: “While it’s true that Brexit will bring opportunities that we are ready to embrace, ending tariff-free trade should be seen as a major risk.
“We need assurances that the transitional arrangements we are likely to require before a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU is agreed are tariff- and barrier-free. To do otherwise will be detrimental not only to us but to many other organisations.
“That’s why we’re calling on government to protect the health of the British dairy industry and its broader benefits to the wider UK economy and, in doing so, ensuring agriculture and food and drink production are front and centre of its negotiation efforts.”
The report also found that the company, which produces Lurpak, Anchor and Cravendale, was responsible for 29.4% of the entire UK dairy manufacturing industry.
One of the company’s farmer suppliers, David Christensen, said: “The triggering of Article 50 has fired the starting gun to the Brexit negotiations and it is important that British dairy is not left behind.”