The group, composed of leading industry figures from the agriculture, manufacturing, retail, logistics and hospitality sectors, aims to focus on boosting skills, agricultural productivity, improving the nation’s nutrition and building on emerging proposals to establish a sector deal.
The group was announced in November last year as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy with the aim of securing the UK’s position as a global leader in “sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink”.
At the time of its launch it was welcomed by many trade associations in the industry, including the Food and Drink Federation, the British Beer & Pub Association, the Confederation of British Industry and manufacturers’ group EEF.
After the meeting it was revealed that it will set up expert working groups to develop recommendations for industry and government on each of its priorities.
“This first meeting of the Food and Drink Sector Council marks a significant step forwards in supporting this vital industry, which is already worth over £110bn to the UK economy,” said environment secretary Michael Gove.
“This ambitious partnership between government and industry will secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable and high-quality food and drink. Increasing productivity will also benefit consumers and businesses, creating jobs and providing a real boost to our economy.”
Business secretary Greg Clark said: “From Scotch whisky, to award-winning cheeses and premium seafood, the produce from our thriving food and drink sector is in demand and enjoyed around the world.”
Iain Ferguson, joint chair, Food and Drink Sector Council (and chairman of Stobart Group), said there was a huge amount of work and commitment needed to bring the sector together.
“It is exciting to see everyone in the same room, working together to address the opportunities and challenges we face as an industry,” he said.