Great British Food Unit could help create 5,000 jobs

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss visits Weetabix factory in Northamptonshire on January 21
Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss visits Weetabix factory in Northamptonshire on January 21

Related tags: United kingdom

The Great British Food Unit has vowed to “take the world by storm” by boosting overseas exports, potentially creating 5,000 jobs in food and drink manufacturing.

The new partnership between manufacturers and government departments​ was launched yesterday (January 21) and backed an industry target to grow processed food exports by a third by 2020.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said: “Today’s launch of the new Great British Food Unit will back industry targets to further boost exports and support even more British companies such as Taylors of Harrogate, Nestl​é and Mr Kipling export overseas potentially generating an additional 5,000 jobs in food and drink manufacturing.”  

The unit’s five key goals also include encouraging foreign investment, securing access to meat and dairy markets, trebling the number of apprentices and increasing the number of protected food names. See box below. 

‘Investment destination of choice’

View from government

​Companies large and small will now find it easier to export overseas and receive foreign investment.”

  • Elizabeth Truss, environment secretary 

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director general Ian Wright supported the government’s plans to grow the industry and turn Britain into the “investment destination of choice”​.

“Government’s new Great British Food Unit, announced today, could be a real game changer for UK food and drink exports,”​ Wright said.  

“Helping this country’s 6,000+ producers, many of them small enterprises, to compete in the fiercely competitive global marketplace will help us meet our ambitious target to grow value added exports by a third to £6bn by 2020.”

Match France and Germany

During a visit to a Weetabix factory in Northamptonshire today, environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said the UK produced more new food products a year than France and Germany put together.

“My long term aspiration is for the UK to match both these countries in terms of the value of exports so our food and drink becomes a worldwide phenomenon,”​ she said.

“Through the creation of the new Great British Food Unit companies large and small will now find it easier to export overseas and receive foreign investment.”

Food and drink manufacturers have been invited to join the partnership with DEFRA and export promotion group UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

Five key goals for next five years

  1. Help entrepreneurs to export
  2. Support foreign direct investment
  3. Secure and maintain access to meat and dairy markets
  4. Treble food and drink apprenticeships
  5. Increase protected food names from 64 to 200

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