Recyclable pouches

Sir, Contrary to the analysis offered by Sophie Ellis of Kantar single-serve cat pouches can be recycled.

We have launched a scheme whereby customers of our catfood brand, Purr and Miaow, can send pouches to UK recycling company Enval to be recycled. The aluminium is reused, the plastic degrades and turned into oil used for fuel - nothing is sent to landfill. We are always looking at ways to improve the sustainability of our products and this provides a real recycling option for our eco-conscious customers. Where we have led, once again, we hope others will follow.

Paul Dennison, commercial director, Pooch & Mutt

Extend worker pilot

Sir, The current Brexit situation is deeply frustrating for many growers, who are keen to move on from the current Brexit impasse. We want to know how we can solve the ongoing shortage of seasonal workers.

It is having devastating impacts. The sector has seen an unprecedented scale of waste this year on farms across the country: 16 million apples unpicked; 87,000 punnets of raspberries unpicked; 63,000 punnets of blueberries unpicked; 5,500 packs of french beans unpicked; 50 tonnes of strawberries unpicked; 25 tonnes of blueberries unpicked; 25 tonnes of cherries - all unpicked.

Every day another farm and another crop are added to the list. This is food waste at a grand scale. It is completely unnecessary. We are calling for the government to expand the seasonal workers pilot with immediate effect to the full 70,000 required for our sector.

British growers require a fully functioning seasonal labour scheme just like every other European country. Now.

Ali Capper, chair, NFU horticulture and potatoes board

A cautious welcome

Sir, We can give the new EU-UK withdrawal deal, which includes the ‘frontstop’ protocol dealing with NI/Ireland, a cautious welcome. There is still considerable detail to be worked out, for instance to ensure that unfettered GB-NI and NI-GB trade is a reality. A comprehensive free trade agreement would alleviate many concerns and this coming period of negotiations will require a collaborative approach from all sides.

Brexit has brought with it challenges for the food and drink industry in Northern Ireland and across the UK. But we must not lose sight of the fact that our sector in Northern Ireland is in a period of growth - at a time when other industries are contracting.

Across the food and drink sector in Northern Ireland, companies of all sizes, from artisan producers to family businesses to large global players, share a real passion for our food and our people, putting the consumer at the heart of everything they do.

Northern Ireland food and drink has earned a great reputation in Great Britain and many countries further afield. We punch well above our weight and are truly world leading when it comes to innovation, quality and commercial success. As we navigate the challenges of Brexit we are also placed to exploit the opportunities that lie beyond.

Brian Irwin, chairman, Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association