Food manufacturing ‘success story’: Santander

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

A third of people believe the sector is struggling: survey
A third of people believe the sector is struggling: survey

Related tags: International trade, Industry

Food and drink manufacturing has been hailed as a “major UK success story” by Santander despite a survey finding that a fifth of people believe that British food is unpopular abroad.

Manufacturers in the sector increased by 6% last year to 8,225 firms, making it one of the country’s most successful industries, according to a report from the bank published today (December 11). 

Despite this success, a third of people still believe the sector is struggling and 18% of them see UK food as unpopular overseas, according to a survey of 1,372 Britons in last month. 

Gap between perceptions and reality​ 

Food and drink firms

  • London - 1,020
  • North West – 930 
  • South East – 855
  • South West – 845
  • Scotland – 815 

Santander head of international small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) banking Mark Collings highlighted the gap between the public’s perceptions of the industry and the reality. 

“The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has become a major UK success story on an international scale,”​ Collings said. 

“British people are proud of their local produce and certainly miss their favourite tea, chocolate, meat and cheese when travelling abroad, yet many do not realise quite how popular these items have become beyond our shores.” 

UK’s largest manufacturing sector 

The industry remains the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, with a turnover of £95bn, and exports reached £12.8bn last year, according the Food and Drink Federation. 

Santander believes that UK businesses are in a strong position to capitalise on this momentum, particular in terms of international potential and export opportunities. 

Collings said: Over the years the ‘Made in Britain’ brand has become synonymous with good quality products and services.”​ 

Ireland is the UK’s biggest export market, followed by France, the Netherlands, Germany and the US.

The survey last month found that consumers correctly identified salmon, cheese and beef as some of the UK’s biggest exports, but failed to mention chocolate. British chocolate brands are worth about £257M to the UK economy. 

View from the bank

“The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has become a major UK success story on an international scale.”

  •  Mark Collings, head of international SME banking, Santander

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