UK: Food and Drink Sector Council set up

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30 Nov 2017 --- The UK food industry has welcomed a government decision to establish a Food and Drink Sector Council which will help stabilize the industry in the wake of Brexit. The Council – which is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy white paper – recognizes the importance of the many sub-sectors that make up Britain’s £112 billion (US$148 billion) “farm to fork” food chain that employs almost four million people.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomes the move which follows months of collaboration involving the Federation and its members working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

The collaboration led to an ambitious set of proposals as part of a food and drink manufacturing sector deal to increase productivity gains while providing much-needed stability to one of the industries that will be most impacted when the UK leaves the European Union. 

The Government's recent Made Smarter Industrial Digitalization Review report estimated that the food and drink industry could add an additional £55bn (US$73 bn) to the economy over the next decade through improved digitalization 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 a considerable untapped opportunity for the industry.

In August, FoodIngredientsFirst reported how exports of all British food and drink products for the first half of 2017 jumped by 8.5 percent, creating the largest growth on record

UK exports reached £10.2bn (US$13.5 billion), with exports to the EU27 growing at a faster rate than to non-EU markets, increased the share of sales to the EU to 61.2 percent.

It is hoped that the new 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.

“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,” said Ian Wright CBE, FDF Director General.

“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.”

Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, also welcomes the launch of the white paper.

“The Industrial Strategy contains important plans to boost our agriculture and food industries' productivity while enhancing our natural environment,” he said.

“We have a thriving, world-renowned food and drink sector and the establishment of a Food and Drink Sector Council will create a new and ambitious partnership between government and industry. The Council will build on existing proposals for a sector deal, securing the UK's position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable and high-quality food and drink.”

“Added to that, the Industrial Strategy's clean growth Grand Challenge – specifically the 'Transforming food production: from farm to fork' program - will drive innovation in food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion. All of this will put the UK at the forefront of advanced sustainable agriculture.”

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