One thousand British food and drink firms will benefit from a new exports action plan which aims to deliver a £500m boost to the UK economy.
The Food and Drink International Action Plan will be delivered by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as part of the Government’s overall ambition to raise UK exports to £1 trillion and to get 100,000 more UK companies exporting.
Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector with a turnover of over £90bn. The industry employs up to 400,000 workers. This represents 15 per cent of the overall manufacturing workforce in the UK.
However, there is huge untapped potential for export among small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with 90 per cent currently not exporting and primarily only with close European neighbours.
Sarah Stevenson, East Midlands’ Acting Regional Director for UKTI said:
“The East Midlands is home to world renowned products, including Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies, alongside a range of other tasty goods, so it’s somewhat disappointing that the export figures nationally for this sector are so low: Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector with a turnover of over £90bn, however, there is huge untapped potential for overseas trade among SMEs, as currently only 10% export.
“In the current economic climate exports can offer significant growth potential. In the last two years, export sales as a whole grew by 15 per cent compared to food and drink sales growth of only three per cent.
“With the strength of the British brand riding high after the Olympics, there has never been a better time to export British food products. The UK’s reputation in producing quality, innovative, safe products is well known across the globe and as a consequence.”
Lord Green, Trade and Investment Minister said:
“Demand for British food and drink products overseas is growing fast; a 15 per cent increase in overseas sales in the last two years is a clear sign of the opportunities available to the British food and drink manufacturers working in this sector.
“This Action Plan reinforces the UK Government’s support for such a prosperous sector with an emphasis on how together with industry, we can support businesses in the global export markets.”
The Food and Drink International Action Plan includes:
- Creation of one team across government and industry to drive forward action on exports and to steer priorities.
- A single strong UK brand identity to help increase the visibility of UK food and drink at the world’s major food events and exhibitions.
- Well-publicised and focussed campaigns on the largest opportunities for the UK sector matched to its strengths.
- More support and advice on exporting – with simple access points for UK firms – to speed the pace of international growth for UK firms.
- Faster export certification process for animals and animal products.
- Continued work to lift trade barriers, promote trade and maintain access to open markets already opened.
The plan also sets out specific support for the dairy industry; beer, cider, wine and spirits exports; meat and seafood industries and UK food brands.
The Food and Drink International Action Plan has been devised jointly between Government and industry after six months of consultation. The plan was launched at Anuga, the world’s leading fair for food and drink.
Exhibitors from the East Midlands included Grantham’s Belvoir Fruit Farms, which makes fruit cordials and pressés, which are sold across the world, from Austria to Japan.
In July 2013, the Government published the Agricultural Technologies industrial strategy. The UK agri-tech sector has the capability and capacity to get ahead in the global race. We have research that is world leading in many agri-tech disciplines and we have global and trusted brands and world-class businesses in food and farming.