Joubère supplies supermarkets such as Waitrose and Sainsbury with products like fresh stocks, soups and sauces. We, more than most, need a reasonable margin because the sector is so dynamic: we need to reinvest continually in new product development ­ the customers demand it.
It is vital for meat producers to come up with alternatives to the simple pork chop or lamb chop to decommoditise the product. But the Chancellor has been really stingy with his tax credit for product development. The credits are only really available for landmark development work.
Basically, you ain't going to get any sort of rebate unless you come up with something that really is a major step forward. There should be more incentives ­ they are vital for businesses large and small.
I also take issue with the 1% increase in National Insurance contributions for both employer and employee.
It's a tough market already and this will have a net impact of increasing labour costs and reducing margins for manufacturers. We won't have to get rid of staff, but others will.
The extent of the impact depends on how automated you are. In the chilled sector, we are labour intensive and will see a fair amount of margin reduction. It's going to be difficult to increase the selling prices and it is not as if we can offset the increased costs anywhere else in the business.
Gordon Brown is just paying lip service to helping small businesses. Labour says it wants to help people with the burden of paperwork ­ but Labour is responsible for the red tape in the first place. It has added to the administrative burden not taken away from it.
I can only compare it to what is going on in other countries where there are great incentives. Even some quite small countries are offering enormous subsidies.
Belgium is a good example of a country where the government has got its approach to business spot on. Belgium plc has worked so well. It's a fantastic coup to persuade the world that chocolate comes from there. In terms of promoting British food there should be much more effort.
Another irritation is the government's policy on recycling waste material. Our industrial estate has one compactor outside every food business because that is the most economical way to do it. It's ridiculous. In other countries people separate waste and think about recycling initiatives ­ and, again, there are more incentives.
Instead, the UK government has been putting into place rather questionable forums and associations where there should be more quality advice for small businesses and particularly new businesses. I'd like to see government do much more to support small business.
And the banks. There's been a real sea change among lenders in the last six months. The banking community is no longer interested in providing manufacturing businesses with working capital it seems. It's a real challenge to find an entrepreneurial bank manager that will back food manufacturers ­ they're looking for service businesses instead.
I realise the failure rate among food manufacturers is high, but if the banks and government offered more assistance in the early days then maybe that wouldn't be the case. If there were more proactive chambers of commerce and more support from the banks and government, the would-be entrepreneurs in the food industry would be more successful.
Having said that, we ourselves have got to be more competitive, particularly with the wave of consolidation among the big retailers at the moment. We need to be more dynamic and ensure there is some red hot product development going on. That's why we're working closely with people in the protein sector producing good quality additive-free sauces that help them decommoditise products.
The bottom line is that we want to encourage people to buy British chicken rather than Thai chicken, say. Labour is not making it easy. It has brought in legislation that will add to staff costs, and make us less competitive.
What is so disappointing is that when Labour came into power there were mutterings of putting UK plc on the map ­ it certainly hasn't happened in my sector.