Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector Deal Proposal

Building on its Industrial Strategy Green Paper response, FDF has been working on detailed Sector Deal proposals which we hope will transform the sector's future growth potential and ensure the UK continues to be home for leading food and drink manufacturers.


While exports in UK food and drink have been experiencing rapid growth, the sector faces some unique challenges. The sector is overwhelmingly made up of SMEs and micro businesses (97%) which struggle to access and take advantage of export markets. The industry needs to ensure that it is able to continue the current growth by supporting these companies more effectively and is additionally set-up to take advantage of the new opportunities offered by the UK's exit from the EU.

To fully take advantage of growth opportunities and drive a step-change in UK food and drink exports, there is a need for a new Government and Industry partnership to provide a coherent focus and maximise the impact of respective resources. We propose three key actions that would work together to enhance export volumes and values for business of all sizes.

1. Food and Drink Export Portal a website that acts as a focal point for F&D exports:

  • Signposting existing export information and support
  • Promotion of Department for International Trade (DIT) export opportunities
  • Highlighting missions / events
  • Promoting sector-specific guidance
  • Building a directory of exporters to inform export support and priorities

2. A Market Research Unit that produces market and sector intelligence reports which will address market failure in the provision of market research to support export prioritisation.

3. Market Access Assistance to put in place food and drink sector specialists in markets that offer the greatest opportunity for growth but are difficult markets for businesses to access. Initial priority markets would be China, India, Japan, USA and UAE and could be based on a similar model to the existing Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) one in China.


The UK has a strong R&D base for food and drink manufacturing driven by high class multinational organisations choosing to locate in the UK. However, more than nine in ten of food and drink businesses are SMEs. Limited resources and uncertainty with short-term retail contracts can make financing of automation technology extremely difficult for food and drink SMEs and in turn hinders improvements in productivity.

We are therefore proposing to establish a network of demonstrator sites, based on already existing Centres of Excellence for Food and Drink Manufacturing*.

Food and drink businesses will benefit from consultancy support focused on identifying productivity improvements which will allow more businesses to find and understand solutions, removing the associated risk of technology investment. Providing a physical space for the demonstration of technology with further build the confidence of industry.

* National Centre for Food Manufacturing at the University of Lincoln, National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University and The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry

Next Steps

The Sector Deal proposal has been submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). If successful a period of negotiation will take place to define scope and co- investment.

Food and Drink Sector Council

FDF response to the BEIS Industrial Strategy Green Paper Consultation

For more information about this work, please contact: