Evans used his address at the FDF President’s Dinner on Wednesday (April 30) to call for an industry body that would replicate what the Automotive Council delivered for the vehicle industry.
“Think about a comparison with the car industry,” he said. “Think about their model where they have the Automotive Council, jointly chaired by leading figures in the industry.
“That could be a way forward for government. Not only would that ensure that we got strategic and continuous conversation with government that our industry needs,” said Evans.
‘More compelling investment proposition’
“But, it would provide a stronger public voice to support the value of the industry. It would also foster innovation by identifying opportunities to provide a more compelling investment proposition for food and drink R&D in the UK, versus other countries where we are ultimately competing against.”
The president went on to stress the food and drink sector’s greater contribution to the UK economy than the automotive or aerospace sectors. “At £24bn, our gross value added is nearly two and a half times as great as the automotive sector,” he said.
“There are three times as many businesses as within the automotive sector. Who would have thought our exports are bigger than in the aerospace sector? And we employ four times as many people.”
UK food and drink exports – valued at £13bn – were significantly larger than aerospace exports, as innovation had fuelled 12% growth in deliveries to non EU countries.
‘No wonder foreign companies are looking to purchase’
“Innovation has turned the UK food and drink industry into a world beater. It is no wonder the number foreign companies are looking to purchase parts of the UK food and drink industry or be part of it and grow it together,” he said.
Evans was speaking at the Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, London.
Meanwhile, the Automotive Council was launched in December 2009 to improve the business environment by providing “a more compelling investment proposition for [automotive] related industries”, according to its website.
The council also develops technology roadmaps for low carbon vehicles and fuels, fosters a stronger and more competitive automotive supply chain, provides a strong public industry voice to support the value of the industry to the UK and to global partners, while ensuring a continuous conversation between government and the automotive industry in the UK.
The council is chaired jointly by Vince Cable, secretary of state for Business, Innovation and Skills, and industry chair, Richard Parry Jones.