As the old year draws to a close there can be no doubt – to borrow from the old Chinese curse – that we live in ‘interesting times’. Our worldwide political, trade and economic turbulence is clearly set to continue and in these circumstances, business – our own packaging sector included – must most often nurture an instinct for fending for itself.
This background has, in part, been the trigger for the Packaging Federation to join lobbying forces this year with many like-minded bodies in the supply chain, most notably the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). Together we represent some 20% of UK manufacturing employment. It makes complete sense to bring our full economic weight to the forefront, to demonstrate the urgent issues in our supply chain, and to argue for policies that protect and serve our businesses, our society and country.
Over the coming twelve months I believe it also behoves us – and here I speak to all UK packaging businesses – not to turn our backs on the spectacle that often masquerades as politics. Instead – and perhaps counter to instinct – we should learn to walk towards the sound of battle and to practice the art of meaningful engagement with our legislators and democratic representatives.
I suggest that all UK packaging businesses could and should profit greatly from inviting their local MP to their place of business; opening up and maintaining a dialogue that embraces all the real and current issues; employment, competitiveness; trading and so on.
Rest assured that in these post-Brexit days there will be no shortage of talking points; jobs, legislations, tariffs, import/export, exchange rates and many other issues.
Also know that your MP will thank you for the meeting opportunity and for having reached out: A doorstep briefing and a some realpolitik facts from his/her constituency gives an MP ten times more value than any white paper or desk research. In addition, the photo-opportunity and the PR value are often most welcome.
Engaging with the political mainstream in this way enables local concerns to be shared. It also gives us an opportunity to remind politicians that the continuing health and development of our packaging sector is a key bellwether for our world as a whole.
It is simply a fact that effective and environmental delivery systems (packaging) for goods and services enable the continuing development and survival of humanity, distributing and preserving resources of all kinds.
Packaging has an essential social purpose to fulfill. At our best, therefore, we are a hugely innovative, well-invested, highly productive and fast reacting element that is part of the centre of myriad supply chains.
As we enter this year’s festive season and our uncertain future there are some signs of trepidation. We should, however, maintain plenty of confidence in our track record of innovation and in our ability to serve and prosper.
Warmest seasons greetings to you