Food and DrinkHospitalityNews

SLTA Welcomes Today’s DRS Changes but Calls for Clarity on ‘Unanswered Questions’, Colin Wilkinson, SLTA

The (SLTA) Scottish Licensed Trade has welcomed today’s confirmation by Circularity Scotland that upfront charges for drinks producers with lower sales volumes have been removed from the forthcoming deposit return scheme (DRS).

Circularity Scotland, the scheme administrator, also confirmed that there will be improved payment terms for lower sales volumes and a much more simple labelling option for niche products.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, commented:
“We very much welcome the fact that Circularity Scotland has announced what it says is £22 million of cash flow support measures to help Scotland’s brewers, distillers, importers and drinks manufacturers prepare for the introduction of Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

“However, we still have serious concerns that the scheme currently being proposed will increase costs for the consumer and reduce the amount of choice available. Many key questions remain unanswered and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, has been unable to tell us how many producers – so far – have signed up for the scheme. The level of producer registration is crucial to the scheme’s success.

“At a meeting this morning attended by Ms Slater, she indicated that she was unaware of how many producers had registered with the scheme – nearly 4,500 producers need to register by the end of the month to allow their products into the Scottish marketplace.

In addition, today’s announcement doesn’t mention a grace period to allow those producers/importers to physically prepare – our view is that this is crucial given there are still so many unanswered questions around the decisions they still need to make.”

Mr Wilkinson added: “We continue to call on the minister to cancel the 28th February producer registration deadline – this will give drinks businesses across the supply chain the confidence to keep trading in Scotland.

“Registration for retailers and hospitality operators begins on 1st March and there are still many issues that remain unresolved such as collection times, storage and security, hybrid hospitality venues where some off-sales transactions take place.

“We also require definitive exemption criteria for licensed hospitality (closed loop) businesses that provide food takeaway/deliveries and include wine/beer etc, can collection in high-volume premises, cash flow similar to the issues with SME producers that have just been given support, the scale of delisted products, and lack of information on what retailers and operators need to do – there remains an urgent need for clarity.”