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RPC Bites #13

21 July 2020. Published by Ciara Cullen, Partner and Ben Mark, Partner

Welcome to RPC Bites. Our aim in the next 2 minutes is to provide you with a flavour of some key legal, regulatory and commercial developments in the Food & Drink sector over the last fortnight… with the occasional bit of industry gossip thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!

Access the full edition of RPC Bites here 

Mini-budget offers some relief for food and drink retailers

The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Whilst many businesses have attempted to innovate and adapt, for an industry that is so reliant on face to face interaction, the enforced closure of stores and social distancing have both taken their toll. 

Has Boris Johnson done a U-turn on 'junk food'

Concerns regarding the rise in obesity levels are nothing new. For years now, a range of high-profile campaigns have encouraged the UK public to maintain a 'healthy weight'. However, following the identification of obesity as one of the major COVID-19 risk factors, it is rumoured that the UK Government may be about to launch a new offensive, specifically targeting 'junk food'. Read more

Paper-based spirit bottle unveiled

With consumers increasingly interested in the environmental credentials of packaging, Diageo has announced that it will be launching the first paper-based spirits bottle in early 2021. The bottle will be used for the Johnnie Walker brand of Scotch Whisky and will be made from 'sustainably-sourced' wood pulp, using no plastic. The announcement is part of a broader trend within the industry, with Frugalpac having launched a paper wine bottle, Carlsberg piloting a wooden beer bottle and other international brands understood to be developing their own environmentally friendly packaging.

Aldi extends immediate payment terms until the end of 2020, for small suppliers

Last week, Aldi's MD, Julie Ashfield reportedly wrote to the company's small suppliers to confirm that their invoices will continue to be paid immediately (i.e. on presentation) until the end of the year. The terms apply to all suppliers with a turnover of up to £1M, of which, Aldi is reported to have over a thousand. The announcement will be welcomed by smaller businesses, many of whom will typically find themselves in a considerably weaker negotiating position than the entities that they supply, leaving them potentially vulnerable to the imposition of onerous contract terms. 

UK Government seeks EU deal on food crossing from Northern Ireland 

 At a House of Lords scrutiny committee on 8 July 2020, George Eustice, Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) answered questions regarding the agrifoods implications of the 'Northern Ireland Protocol'. He spoke about how DEFRA was in talks with both its Northern Irish counterpart and the EU regarding how disruptions to agrifoods crossing the Northern Ireland (NI) / Republic of Ireland (ROI) border could be minimised. Mr Eustice commented that this was important in circumstances where, amongst other things, 35% of milk produced in NI is exported to the ROI.

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