Ian Wright

FDF boss Ian Wright has warned suppliers the industry could be torn apart by the “lies” of the health lobby if it allows itself to become disunited in the war on sugar.

Speaking at the federation’s annual awards ceremony in London last night, the new director general said no sector should regard itself as safe from attack.

“There is a debate about to ensue, perhaps already started, on the place of individual parts of the industry,” said Wright. “I would encourage you all to view an attack on one as an attack on the many.

“If we show any form of lack of unity in the debate that is to come, they won’t just come for one group of companies, they will come for all of us.”

Wright quoted the words of Leonard Cohen song Nevermind, chosen as the theme song for the second season of US TV show True Detective by the series’ musical supervisor T Bone Burnett, one of Wright’s musical heroes.

“The fantastic song Nevermind talks about ‘the story’s told with facts and lies’, “he said. “It’s really really important that every one of us in this room recognises that over the next four or five months the story about the food and drink industry, whether it is about your part of it or not, is going to be told by others in facts and lies.

“I would encourage you all to keep our great industry together as we face the debate that is coming.

“It is a reasonable debate, it is an important debate, and it could be an absolutely crucial debate in terms of our commercial future.”

Wright urged suppliers to be “proud of the industry” and also aimed a broadside at the government over its contribution to the economy, as David Cameron considers what action to take in his childhood obesity strategy.

“This is a fantastic industry, a huge contributor to the economy, and we do not want it to be belittled in any way, shape or form.”

It is the second time in the space of a few days that Wright has accused health campaigners of lying in their campaign for measures including a sugar tax.

Last week he told The Grocer the Jamie Oliver show Jamie’s Sugar Rush had misrepresented the facts over the sugar tax in Mexico, which he claimed had not worked and had cost thousands of drinks industry jobs.

Oliver has claimed the government is planning a major crackdown on the industry, having acted as an adviser to Cameron on the looming strategy, and as of this morning had nearly 130,000 signatures on a petition calling for a sugar tax.