Editors Comment

Another week, another closure, or so it seems in recent months. For an industry where consumer demand is strong and our products popular, it is strange that we're seeing so many businesses floundering.

Efficiency appears to be the enemy of all in the sector; whenever a business is forced to cut costs, usually a euphemism for cutting staff, it's all in the name of that holiest of holy grails - efficiency.

Perhaps the latest casualties in this war on inefficiency - Tulip and Cranberry Foods - are victims of their markets. After all, trading in commodity sectors like bacon and turkey offers little in the way of shelter if things start to tighten. The temptation is to start to blame the retailers and, to a certain extent, they must carry their share of the burden. But it's too simplistic to just pin all our woes on the multiples; consumers have been conditioned to expect cheap food and, as long as they are prepared to buy cheap meat from anywhere in the world, UK operations are going to find the going tough.

We're seeing a slight shift in consumer attitudes, but this remains a niche, almost elitist clique. The trend may well begin to filter down to the masses, but it will take time and the industry has to work hard to drive the message home to consumers that good, British products have a cost - one they should be prepared to pay. Until that hits home, we're likely to see more closures, job cuts and cost savings - all in the name of efficiency - as the industry struggles to keep pace with consumer demand.

On a lighter note, it was great to see the success of the BDCI during Richard Cracknell's reign as festival chairman. Raising £275,000, probably one of the highest sums in its history, was a great achievement by him and the people who supported him. New festival chairman, Dennis Clark, has a tough act to follow but I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge and I wish him every success.

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