Sector News

Trump takes White House – what will it mean for food industry?

November 10, 2016
Food & Drink

As the food industry wakes up to news that political outsider and billionaire business magnate Republican Donald Trump has beaten Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States – questions and speculation hang heavy in the air about the potential impact on trade deals, global exchange rates, tariffs, production, research and development and so much more.

Leading up to the dramatic and historic vote, FoodIngredientsFirst contacted a number of food ingredients companies and industry organizations to ask for a reaction to the new president. However, many were reluctant to take a firm stance so early as the result seemed, at times, too close to call in America’s most divisive elections in years, possibly ever.

Questions will be raised about what kind of food and agricultural policies the US can expect from Trump and how major proposed trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will fare under his presidency.

Questions about the Republican party’s platform on issues like genetically modified food, improvements in food labeling, the numerous proposed sugar levies across the US, sustainability and environmental issues like climate change will be abundant – especially as in the past Trump has severely criticized climate change policies.

Then there is the US food stamps program, officially knowns as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) which provides nutritional assistance to more than 45 million low-income families and saves children, the disabled and the elderly from going hungry. Prior to the election, the Democrats had supported SNAP calling to maintain or perhaps increase funding, whilst the Republicans have spoken about possible cuts to the program and possibly taking it away from the USDA.

Health issues like the obesity epidemic and spiraling Type II diabetes rates will be on the agenda at some point as will numerous other controversial policies, reforms, taxes and cuts.

Under President Obama, America saw some fairly significant changes to food policies like banning trans fats, introducing farm subsidy reforms, reducing sodium and the GM food labeling bill that was signed into law earlier this year. Congress passed the legislation that means the majority of food packaging must carry a label, symbol or an electronic code readable by a smartphone indicating whether it contains GMOs. The Bill, signed by Obama in the summer, gives companies three different options and has come under fire from many in American politics and the food industry who believe it is a watered down version of what was put forward in Vermont.

First Lady Michelle Obama was well known for her work in the healthy eating space and for addressing the obesity crisis over the course of the eight years at the White House and became an advocate of nutrition, physical activity and healthy eating. The Let’s Move program also specifically targeted childhood obesity.

Concerns for the food industry remain under question after Trump’s new victory, with a widespread belief among anti-GMO activists that Trump is opposed to GMOs and favors labeling. This belief first arose in October, 2015, during the run up to the Iowa Republican caucus.

The New York Times reports that Donald Trump is hoping to become America’s first fast food President. He has, on several occasions, posed for social media pictures with burgers and fried chicken from fast food chains on his private plane.

This type of approach is bound to attract public health scrutiny and criticism once the president elect takes up his new role in January 2017.

By Gaynor Selby

Source: Food Ingredients First

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