The UK Food and Drink Industry: A 20/20 Vision for Growth

Our shared vision for the UK food and drink industry is to deliver sustainable growth of 20% by 2020.

Achievements 2012

Jim Moseley, FDF President

It's twelve months since FDF and Government launched a shared vision to grow food and drink manufacturing by 20% by 2020. It's been a busy year.

Through our careers campaign Taste Success we are bringing alive the range of opportunities our sector offers and inspiring the next generation of food engineers and scientists to join our ranks.

On exports, we're taking on the world, with Ministers leading from the front championing British food and drink, whilst working behind the scenes to remove the barriers to export. And we're working together to make sure our sector stays world class in product and process innovation - essential to continue to satisfy our consumers at home and abroad; whilst playing our part in increasing global food security and delivering sustainable growth.

View the 2012 Achievements for the 20/20 Vision for Growth

A Great British Success Story

Our performance

  • Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK with a turnover of £78.7bn contributing £20bn in Gross Value Added to the UK economy.
  • We have continued to grow throughout the economic downturn.
  • We are the key link in a world-class highly efficient food chain.
  • We buy 2/3 of what UK farmers produce.
  • Exports of food and non-alcoholic drink were £12bn in 2012 and the export of value added food and drink has grown in each of the last eight consecutive years.

Our people

  • We employ up to 400,000 people right across the UK.
  • We recruit at all levels from school leavers with few or no qualifications right through to highly qualified postgraduates.
  • 38% of those working in food manufacturing are qualified to A-Level or above. 20% are educated to degree level
  • 94% of employees are full time

Our business

  • grainsWe produce great tasting food with many of our leading brands much-loved household names
  • We are world-class in product quality, branding and new product development
  • We create around 8,500 new products each year – leading the way in areas such as the rising global demand for healthier products
  • We are reducing our impact on the planet through our Five-fold Environmental Ambition

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Delivering Sustainable Growth

Our shared vision for the UK food and drink industry is to deliver sustainable growth of 20% by 2020. To achieve it we need:

Our performance

  • A shared strategy to deliver sustainable growth and food security
  • A competitive business and tax environment to attract investment
  • To support the SMEs who are the backbone of our sector
  • To improve productivity and strip out unnecessary costs

Our people

  • To attract the best talent to our industry through an efficient pipeline delivering employment-ready individuals
  • To retain and develop our workforce

ShoppingOur business

  • To stay world-class in product and process innovation
  • To be proactive in responding to key societal challenges such as obesity and climate change

There is every opportunity for the UK food and drink industry to grow sustainably:

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5 Key Advantages

  • Our product quality
  • Our brands
  • Our innovation
  • Our efficiency and productivity
  • Growing demand for our products

biscuit machinePopulation growth will drive demand at home and abroad. The global population is predicted to reach 9bn by 2050 and the UK population to rise to over 71m by 2030.

Changing dietary patterns will drive demand for value added products in developing markets and health and wellbeing products with an ageing population.

British products are reputable in key markets and we have strong global food and drink brands.

Our fiercely competitive domestic market drives innovation and value for consumers.

We have efficient supply chains, low waste and high levels of regulatory compliance.

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Working Together to Overcome Challenges

Research commissioned by FDF from Grant Thornton highlights significant challenges to growth:

Competing in global markets

Our international competitors see export as their main route to grow and they have aggressive state-backed plans to increase their market share in many of our target markets.

Attracting and retaining talent

We will need at least 170,300 new recruits in the next five years and face significant skills shortages in essential disciplines.

A competitive UK business environment

Increasingly volatile and in some cases artificially high commodity prices make it difficult to plan and erode margins.

Our SMEs find it difficult to access bank finance and existing Government incentive schemes, and to develop their export potential.

Reducing the burden of regulation

The UK's regulatory and tax systems are acting as brakes on inward investment.

We are already taking action to overcome these challenges:

  • A new Food and Drink Export Forum co-chaired by Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice and FDF Deputy President Paul Grimwood has developed the Exports Action Plan - a strategy to drive forward food and drink export growth.
  • UK food and drink will be showcased as part of the London 2012 Olympics.
  • The Government will introduce legislation to introduce an Adjudicator to enforce the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, to support the fair operation of the food chain.
  • FDF members have committed to double the number of apprentices in the food and drink industry by the end of 2012, offering specific help to SMEs.
  • FDF's careers campaign, Taste Success – A Future in Food and our schools programme in Scotland are tackling negative perceptions of our industry.
  • The Government has awarded almost £1.7m to the food and drink industry to deliver an action plan to up-skill our existing workers and attract new recruits.
  • FDF members have committed to Graduate Excellence with the development of an industry sponsored technical degree course offering work experience, internships and the potential for full-time employment at the end of the course.
  • 29 FDF members have signed the Public Health Responsibility Deal and we are committed to working in partnership with Government and others to help individuals lead healthier lives.
  • Through our Five-fold Environmental Ambition we have cut CO2 emissions by 25% since 1990, saved water, halved waste to landfill, reduced packaging and made our transport more efficient, while still delivering increased output.

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More Information


Last reviewed: 28 Jan 2014