Ok, so there is no doubt what was front of mind for New Yorkers over the past few days whilst I was at the Fancy Food Show. Brexit! Hotel receptionists, porters, potential suppliers, waiters were all asking what was happening in the UK. Even the cab driver from the airport, let us know that he had acquired a number of shares from British companies in the crash on Friday!
Of course, in many ways, it was the worst possible time to come here. If only I had pre-paid the hotel bill, it would have saved $100! More seriously it was good to see that most Americans seem to recognise that exactly the same sentiments that have caused people to vote for Trump in the USA caused more people than expected to vote for Brexit in the UK. In fact, the reasons for both lies around 2 miles from where I am writing this now – Wall Street. The greed of bankers caused the crash in 2008, and the economy has suffered ever since, with honest hard-working people losing jobs and homes ever since. Did the bankers get punished? No – one was put in prison. 100s should have been. Did the poor and immigrants get blamed? Yes, of course, they did. They always do.
I am pleased that I have found very few business colleagues that have voted for Brexit. Many trade internationally, so wouldn’t want the stress of the exchange rate crash predicted by me last week, by the way. Sadly, many of those who voted for Brexit are now regretting it as their protest vote has back-fired and it is now their jobs and security that is at more risk than it was before. I wonder what the percentage would be if there was another referendum now.
So what does all this mean for the food industry, especially the speciality food industry. We have enjoyed a richness of foods and tastes within the UK over the past 20 years, and whilst I am sure this would have happened whether EU or not, there is a closeness within Europe within the speciality food industry and Britain has benefitted. I felt sad this week that many of our European friends I met at the show here feel that Britain has almost rejected them. That’s why you won’t find many food people will have voted for Brexit last week, and if they did I hope they regret their decision.