8 May 2012
Peter Hogarth - Regional Director, UK Trade and Investment East Midlands
A short while ago I dined at a very well known Leicestershire venue that attracts people from all over the country. The dessert menu included 'a selection of French cheeses'. Nothing wrong in that you may say but ponder a little longer and you begin to wonder why specifically French cheeses. That venue is but a few miles from the source of some of the best cheeses in the world, made locally in Leicestershire. The UK more widely makes a huge range of some of the finest cheeses that money can buy.
The French certainly buy very little cheese from this country, or from anywhere else for that matter, believing that theirs is best. They are wrong of course. Ours is – in my opinion. But if you take this a bit further, then why should people overseas buy our cheese, or anything else made here if we don't believe in it, buy it, and promote it ourselves?
In the budget the Chancellor said we had to double our exports by 2020. We need to do that in part because we import too much and need to close the deficit between what we buy and what we sell. And maybe we import a lot because we think foreign goods are better than our own. Better cheese, better cars, better - and/or cheaper -clothes, better pretty much everything. Yet there is no doubt we make some of the best products in the world, whether it is Stilton cheese or Noble cars, so we need to support them.
When you go to buy something, do you consider where it’s been made? If enough people stop to ask about the origins of what they consume, and to consider the advantages of supporting quality British goods, the knock on effects could be great. Maybe more people would be encouraged to revive production of certain products (as TV’s Mary Portas has done with underwear recently).
We need confidence in our products, so that we buy them giving confidence to those who make them to also sell their goods overseas.