There can be no serious food business that is not international. From Nestlé's takeover of Rowntree to Unilever's quest for Bestfoods, the pattern is clear. Newcomers may innovate and challenge but in the end, whether it is New Covent Garden or Phileas Fogg, expansion demands the marketing reach of the bigger group. The employment consequences that follow have a crucial effect on national economies. Manufacturing itself is internationalised. Companies can see their sales soar through their global reach but that very globalisation puts a premium on manufacturing competitiveness. If Kit Kat can as easily be made in York as on the continent, it will obviously be made where it is cheapest. When Wal-Mart buys from Unilever in Germany it will want to know why it has to pay more for the same products for its Asda subsidiary in Britain. It is no good blaming the high pound for higher manufacturing costs here. The retailing giants want the lowest cost product they can get and their buying power has already driven food companies margins to the narrowest ever. So it is not surprising if Unilever is increasingly sourcing in mainland Europe where the euro exchange rate makes manufacturing more competitive. The most recent figures from the Confectionery Alliance confirm this trend. Even more worrying is this week's report showing that Britain's share in EU inward investment has fallen from 28% to 24%, while the French share has jumped from 12% to 18%. Given the choice, companies will be increasingly wary of investing in the UK if that makes their goods uncompetitive. Whatever we feel about joining the single European currency, there is no doubt that its very existence will affect the UK decisively. That is the serious issue which deserves a more informed debate than the sloganising to which it has so far been reduced. {{NEWS }}