“We’ve got to do more to help your industry specifically,” Javid told guests at the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) president’s reception in London last month. As part of that process, food and drink manufacturers were being invited to join a partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and export promotion group UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).
Three key aims of the unit are: to drive up food and drink exports by helping more UK businesses to sell produce around the world; to treble the number of apprenticeships in the sector; and increase the number of food and drink products enjoying protected food name status.
“We also want to help by increasing the number of protected products in the food and drink sector from 64 to something like 200 and we are working with many of you on that,” he said.
‘Hugely important industry’
Food and drink was “exciting in many ways and it’s a hugely important industry to our economy”, said Javid.
Last year, the food and drink sector generated more than £80bn in sales, while accounting for exports worth £13bn and generating over 400,000 jobs.
“These figures say it all in terms of the importance of the sector and how important it is to driving forward our economy. That is why I want to make sure as government that we’re doing everything we possibly can to support your sector and help it grow even more, hire more people, produce higher sales and more exports.”
Great British Food Unit
The Great British Food Unit was part of the five-year Great British Food campaign launched by DEFRA last November.
Environment secretary Liz Truss welcomed plans to treble apprenticeships in the food and drink industry and to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third by 2020.
“We want food and farming to be a top destination for high-flying graduates, as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as London’s Tech City,” said Truss.
“By championing the latest technology, building skills and creating jobs and apprenticeships, we will create a stronger brand for British food and drink that will see more of our quality produce enjoyed at home and exported around the globe.”