SWA joins call for DRS grace period for small producers

SWA chief executive Colin Smith recently met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to emphasise the problems with the Deposit Return Scheme in its current form.

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) is one of several trade bodies calling for an 18-month legal grace period and the option to opt in to the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for the thousands of small producers in Scotland.

The SWA, along with the Society of Independent Brewers, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association and Scotland Food & Drink, warn that without urgent changes by the Scottish Government to the scheme, many products will no longer be available in Scotland from 16 August and prices will substantially increase.

In an open letter to Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, the trade groups highlight the continued lack of clarity on how the scheme will work and the action that small producers need to take to prepare. They also call for Slater to amend the rules for online takeback.

The SWA has also been collaborating with other trade bodies to explore ways to protect wholesalers that are importers and/or producers via a grace period. SWA chief executive Colin Smith said: “A grace period will allow them to overcome the significant challenges they still face in trying to get ready to go live with DRS because there remain fundamental unanswered questions on key issues such as VAT, price-marked packs, IT system requirements, and what happens to stock in bonded warehouses.

“In addition, our request for a de-minimis on SKUs below a 50,000 unit per annum threshold would protect the availability and choice of a wide range of unique or limited low-volume SKUs that many wholesalers and their customers stock. This differentiates their offering versus their competitors.”

Meanwhile, Smith, who spoke to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at last week’s Business in the Parliament 2023 conference at Holyrood, said: “I had the opportunity to discuss with Nicola Sturgeon the challenges facing the industry around DRS and also the ongoing significant costs of doing business. I stressed the DRS challenges facing us but also our commitment to finding workable solutions ahead of going live in August.

“The theme of the conference was ‘Sustainable Recovery: Maximising the Opportunities of the Next Decade’ and while our members are committed to becoming more sustainable – and many are already implementing excellent initiatives – it is difficult for many to focus on sustainability issues when they are faced with so many current and more pressing challenges.”

Published Date: February 6, 2023
Category: Wholesale Industry News