The United Kingdom’s food and drink industry occupies a unique place within the nation’s economy. We are found at the heart of every home, in every town, in every region. The shopper and consumer is at the very centre of all we do as a sector. Food and drink is crucial to our country’s success.
The food and drink manufacturing sector generated more than £20 billion in exports last year. Around 400,000 people earn a living working from these businesses in almost 7,000 companies spread throughout the country. We work closely with our partners in farming, food retail and hospitality to harness the voice of the entire supply chain. The wider ‘farm to fork’ industry is an economic superpower, worth £110 billion to the UK and employing more than four million people.
Today, our industry is presented with an unprecedented number of challenges and opportunities. The decision to leave the EU has meant we have had to adapt and react to a changing landscape. We devoutly hope to see government secure the best possible Brexit for food and drink, as the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.
Our industry has seen continued success in overseas markets. Total exports of food and drink in 2016 grew by 10.5% to a record figure of more than £20 billion, as UK manufacturers responded to rapid growth in demand for quality produce. This was the 16th year of consecutive growth, yet there is still massive untapped potential. Only one in five food and drink manufacturers currently export. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is clear that dedicated specialist support – along the lines of Ireland’s Bord Bia – for new and existing exporters is required for us to fulfil our ambition to grow branded exports by a third by 2020 to more than £6 billion.
We welcome the Government’s decision to place industrial strategy front and centre of its vision for a ‘Global Britain’. Now is the time to harness industry and government expertise to build a long-term vision for food, farming and fisheries.
As we celebrate the successes of the past year and look forward to the promise of the coming 12 months, we urge all those in food and drink manufacturing and the wider supply chain to join us in our shared mission: to continue providing consumers with safe, affordable and nutritious food and drink and to further unlock our potential as a sector.