EU food industry productivity lags behind

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Eu

Productivity in Europe’s food and drink sector continues to lag behind that in manufacturing generally, according to the industry’s EU trade body...

Productivity in Europe’s food and drink sector continues to lag behind that in manufacturing generally, according to the industry’s EU trade body CIAA.

In its Data and Trends report for 2007, just released, the CIAA claimed productivity in the sector was “considerably lower” than most other industries, despite improvements in recent years.

Although food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU (14% and employing 4.3M people) with a combined turnover of euro 870bn, the CIAA reported labour productivity in terms of added value per employee for food and drink at euro 39,900, compared with euro 45,500 for manufacturing as a whole.

The CIAA attributes this to the high proportion of part-time employees in the sector and lower percentage of “high-level” skills. It noted the personnel cost per employee was below that of other sectors.

While large companies comprised just 0.9% of all food and drink enterprises in Europe, they accounted for 51.6% of turnover, 53.5% of added value and contributed to 38.4% of employment.

Despite new product development being widely seen as key to the sector’s future, food and drink also fell way down the league of research and development expenditure as a percentage of added value. It was well below sectors such as electrical and optical equipment; chemicals; IT; automotive; and computer services.

The top three innovative EU member states in food products were Belgium, Sweden and France, claimed the CIAA.