The Food and Drink Federation recently commissioned the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge to take a close look at the food industry and compare it against other manufacturing sectors.
Its report confirmed that the UK’s food sector is a significant and resilient component of the country’s manufacturing scene; invests heavily in research and development, innovation and new product launches; and provides a secure, well-paid and increasingly skilled working environment.
In particular, the IfM found that companies in our sector are positive about the prospects for increasing their investment in UK production, research and design in the next three to five years.
As the new government builds the strategy for economic recovery, we feel the findings will be a timely reminder that our sector can form a key part of its thinking.
But the IfM also highlighted the challenges we face, including the fact that while exports of added-value foods have increased significantly in recent years (by 14% in the past decade), imports are rising faster.
As the government declares Britain to be open for business again, this insight raises some questions for policy makers about why processing companies have chosen to locate food factories in other parts of the EU instead of the UK.
Julian Hunt is director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation.