The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has appointed an external communications company to help convey a more positive message about the industry after admitting that it failed to counter a raft of adverse publicity last year.
The appointment, designed to complement the FDF's in-house communications team, was being finalised as Food Manufacture went to press, but it was expected to start talking up "this highly ethical, truly important industry" from January, said Martin Paterson, FDF deputy director general.
Melanie Leech, who took over from Sylvia Jay as FDF's director general last August (see p28), said: "We do a huge amount on the ground - with schools and public education campaigns. What we haven't necessarily done as much as I would like to see is putting that together at national level and really trying to promote the strengths of the industry. We recognise we don't get our story across."
Bad press, generated by food campaign groups and others, was picked up by a largely antagonistic media. This included a recent report that it was multinational manufacturers and not farmers who were reaping the biggest pay-offs from the reformed Common Agricultural Policy.
Leech said the external public relations team would be "making use of the companies that make up our membership and also the brands"
"The brands are incredibly powerful, they are known and they are trusted. We need to harness that more effectively," she said.