from Audrey Wales, independent retailer and National Spokeswoman for Retailers against Smuggling

frozen foods can reach high quality from Alf Carr, director general, British Frozen Food Federation

Sir; Thanks to Gordon Brown’s Budget rise on tobacco taxation, independents such as me up and down the country face another year of hardship as a result of the effects of tobacco smuggling on our sales.
When will the Chancellor realise tobacco smugglers are plaguing the streets of Britain because high levels of taxation on tobacco in the UK create a huge difference in price between tobacco here and elsewhere? This difference gives smugglers all the reason they need to commit their crime.
The Budget increase will only encourage more criminals to carry out more smuggling. Now that we are part of an expanded EU, how can we compete with the smugglers who can buy a packet of 20 cigarettes in Latvia for 41p when we will now have to sell them for just under £5?
As a result of the Chancellor’s decision, more and more shopkeepers up and down the country will have to cut jobs or go out of business.
The Chancellor should realise smugglers don’t care about who they sell to, including the under-age, and this will continue until he brings taxation levels more into line with other EU nations.
The day before the Budget, the Treasury sub-committee called for effective action to be taken “as a matter of urgency” to fight the smuggling of handrolling tobacco, which the report described as “out of control”. It’s about time the government took note.
Sir; Due to restriction on space in last week’s issue of The Grocer, a short extract from an interview conducted at IFE05 about new frozen foods at the show was out of context and gave the wrong impression.
I was not being critical of frozen food producers, who cannot be held to blame for the dynamics of a category that, like many others, is expanding its volume faster than its value. This is due to the increased demands by the multiples and is a commercial fact of life.
I was actually seeking to illustrate that some new, high-quality ranges of frozen foods were being displayed at the show, mainly from embryonic UK and overseas producers. This is encouraging and shows there is an opportunity to reverse the emphasis on sheer volume if given a fair chance, ideally under the retailers’ own labels.
There are still plenty of new ideas in frozen foods that, if well nurtured, could significantly increase consumer interest and elevate the top end of the frozen food category with a higher-quality perception.