By Daniel Hunter
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% 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% currently not exporting and primarily only with close European neighbours.
The plan was launched by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on Sunday evening at Anuga, in Cologne, Germany, the world’s leading food and drink trade fair.
At the same time food was officially launched as one of the GREAT marketing campaign pillars. The GREAT campaign showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer in order to encourage the world to visit, study and do business with the UK.
Through the GREAT campaign UKTI will deliver a 2 year programme of activity showcasing the British food and drink industry to markets including Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macao, China, USA and Europe.
“Brand Britain is recognised and revered internationally. The Food and Drink Exports Action Plan and the launch of ‘Food is GREAT’ are important, as they will give quality British produce an even higher profile, boost our economy and create jobs," Speaking from Anuga, Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said.
“There are huge opportunities for British food companies to export all over the world and I’m determined to help our firms exploit them.”
UKTI will be taking a food and drink trade mission to Anuga where UK companies will meet a range of buyers and suppliers, and visit a number of local food and drink producers.
Chef and ambassador for the Food is GREAT campaign, Tom Aikens, has created a menu for the delegates to showcase the best of British produce and improve international perceptions of the UK’s food offering.
“People are becoming increasingly concerned with the origins of what they are consuming and exactly what they are eating," Tom Aikens said.
“One of life’s luxuries is being able to discover the heritage of your food and being truly educated in what you are eating.
“The Food is GREAT Campaign really celebrates the hard work and dedication of some of the best suppliers in the world.
“At both Tom Aikens Restaurant and Tom’s Kitchen we are committed to using the very best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. We work closely with British suppliers and farmers that are as passionate about growing as the chefs are about cooking.”
Lord Green, Trade and Investment Minister said: “Demand for British food and drink products overseas is growing fast; a 15% increase in overseas sales in the last 2 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.”
Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé UK and Ireland and Co-Chair of the Agri-food and drink Export Forum said: “I am very pleased to endorse this Action Plan as co-chair of the Agri-food Export Forum. There has never been a better time for the UK agri-food and drink companies to start exporting. High demand from overseas markets for British goods will play a vital role in our sector’s ability to achieve the shared goal with government of 20% sector growth by 2020.”
The Food and Drink International Action Plan support will include:
- 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 6 months of consultation.
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