Industry bodies and trade associations have welcomed the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy white paper, which announced the formation of a Food and Drink Sector Council
The creation of the council recognises the importance of the many sub-sectors that make up the nation's £112bn farm to fork food chain and employ almost four million people.
Since April, the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) and its members have been working with Defra and BEIS on a set of proposals as part of a food and drink manufacturing sector deal to increase productivity gains, while providing stability to one of the industry’s most affected by Brexit.
The Government’s recent Made Smarter Industrial Digitalisation Review report estimated that the food and drink industry could add an additional £55bn to the economy over the next decade through improved digitalisation alone.
While exports of food and drink have grown to record figures over the past year, just one in five food and drink manufacturers currently sell to foreign markets, presenting an untapped opportunity for the industry.
It is hoped that the Food and Drink Sector Council will enable industry growth, with exports, innovation and skills seen as priority areas for both food and drink manufacturing and the other sectors which make up the food chain.
Ian Wright, FDF director general said, “This is great news. We have been calling for a Food and Drink Sector Council for some time and this is recognition from Government of the central importance of the food and drink supply chain to the economy.
“UK food and drink is a major national asset and the envy of the world. The creation of the council acknowledges the importance of the sector to both national security and economic growth, and will allow us to unlock our very significant productivity potential and secure our position as a global leader in safe, sustainable, and high-quality food and drink.
"We will continue to work closely with both Defra and BEIS to ensure we secure a transformative sector deal for food and drink manufacturing.”