With the spotlight firmly on London during the Olympics, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has been working with Government to highlight the strength of UK food and drink manufacturing and its potential for delivering sustainable growth through exports.
Along with member companies including Nestle, Coca Cola Enterprises and Kraft, FDF attended today’s ‘Global Business Summit on Retail, Food and Drink’ to discuss key industry issues including global challenges, health and wellbeing and sustainability.
The event was followed with a food and drink showcase for international journalists in key export target countries. Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry with an annual turnover of £76.2 billion and employing over 400,000 people. The industry is expected to grow 20 per cent by 2020 and key to this will be UK brands’ ability to export.
Food and drink exports rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2011, totalling over £12.1billion. Whilst the EU nations remain the key customers, there have been huge rises in exports to Eastern Europe and the Far and Middle East – exports to China rose over 50 per cent between 2010 to 2011.
The industry has been working with Government partners on a strategy to ensure that UK food and drink companies can take advantage of a surge in interest in British products as diets become increasingly Westernised and UK food is recognised for its quality and safety.
Amongst the companies seeing an increase in their exports is Quaker Oats, whose manufacturing plant in Cupar, Scotland now exports over 50 per cent of its output abroad.
Quaker has seen a 20 per cent surge in exports to Saudi Arabia between 2006-2011 with the oats being popular for use in traditional soups at Ramadan. In 2011, 90 per cent of sales were in the three months leading up to that period.
Another FDF member United Biscuits, has produced a product especially for the Nigerian market. Its UK technical team worked closely with Unicef to develop the ‘Happy Faces’ biscuit which is fortified with iron, iodine and calcium to address some of the nutritional deficiencies present in the population.
It has also enjoyed success with its long established McVitie’s Digestive which is now the top selling breakfast biscuit in Italy – with around 8.3million packs sold in 2011.
FDF Director General, Melanie Leech said: “We are delighted to be part of today’s summit to discuss the issues that are key to the vibrant and growing food and drink industry.
“The discussion so far has highlighted many of the issues that the Food and Drink Federation has been addressing through its own industry action, particularly the importance and growth of health and wellbeing and the need to deliver our growth sustainably.
“I am pleased to hear of the appointment of Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo plc as Business Ambassador for the food and drink industries. Our small and medium sized companies to maximise their potential with overseas markets and his role will help SMEs access global markets and grow their business overseas.”