Its latest report - Data & Trends of the European Food and Drink Industry 2011 - revealed the sector accounts for 16% of the union’s total manufacturing turnover.
It is also the union’s largest employer – providing 4.1M people with jobs directly and millions more indirectly.
The report also noted: “As a non-cyclical sector, the food and drink industry showed continued stability during the recent economic downturn. The sector has outperformed the wider manufacturing sector in the EU.”
Food firms registered output growth of 1.3% during period between the first quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of last year.
Meanwhile, the output of the general EU manufacturing sector fell by 7.9%.
Food and drink manufacturers also reported a lower decline in employment than EU manufacturing as a whole.