Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, RT Hon Jim Paice, today reaffirmed the vital role the UK food and drink industry plays in making the country a successful world player in food and drink.
Speaking at Food & Drink Expo featuring Farm Shop & Deli – the country’s largest food and drink focused trade expo this year with more than 1,500 individual exhibitors – he noted that the sector is one of the larger employers, responsible for over 3.5million jobs and 7 per cent of UK Gross Value Added.
“We have a re-awakened interest in the food and drink industry as part of Britain’s economic recovery – it is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK with a gross value added of £24.6bn. It plays a key role in driving strong and sustainable growth, particularly through exports and in developing its overseas markets.
“Food and drink exports from the UK in 2010 saw the sixth consecutive year of growth in value to £16billion and provisional figures for 2011 indicate that we will perform even better, breaking the £16.5billion mark.”
Development and support of the UK export market has been high on the coalition government’s agenda, reinforced by the launch of an Exports Action Plan at the end of January by Paice’s department.
The plan will drive export growth in the farming, food and drink sector by opening markets and removing trade barriers; encouraging more small and medium-sized enterprises to explore overseas opportunities and shifting the focus of the sector towards the prospects of emerging economies where there is the greatest future growth potential.
Paice concluded that the UK has a world class reputation for innovation; “We want to harness this strength and use it to the economic advantage of the whole country. We can maintain a thriving, sustainable and profitable UK food and drink sector that can compete with the best in the world.”