New report shows the government needs to do more to help UK’s largest manufacturing sector to attract vital investment

05 March 2024

A new report released today by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) shows that food and drink manufacturers underpin the UK’s manufacturing strength across all regions and nations, contributing over £35 billion in GVA alongside providing a strong platform for skilled jobs everywhere.


However, critical investment in the sector has seen a sustained decline over the last few years. ONS data shows that over the year to Q3 2023, investment was down 33.2% compared to the same period in 2019, contrasting with the UK as a whole where investment rose by 5.4%.

This threatens growth and food security in the medium and longer term. The government needs to act now to create the circumstances for further investment and sustained growth.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Budget we are calling on the government to work with our sector to agree long-term policies to foster vital private investment which unlocks further productivity growth, boosts exports and that secures the future of the food and drink sector in the UK. This includes a formal food and drink innovation partnership and financial incentives through a Food and Drink Manufacturing Transformation Fund to expedite the adoption of automation and digital technology.

Commenting on the report Karen Betts, Chief Executive, The Food and Drink Federation said:

“This report sets out how critical a thriving food and drink manufacturing sector is to the UK’s broader economy, as well as to everyone’s daily lives. Unlike many industries, ours is spread evenly across the country, with regions of real strength like the Midlands, North of England, Scotland’s central belt and South Wales, where we provide good jobs and great careers in big companies and small.

“But the government should not take our industry for granted. Our sector urgently needs investment – in science, innovation, automation and new technologies – if it’s to remain the powerhouse that our country needs it to be into the future. We need a strategic approach from government looking at attracting new investment and building productivity – to set the conditions for success into the next decade. Government must also look at how we are regulated – muddled regulation, like ‘not for EU’ labelling, a poorly functioning Apprenticeship Levy or badly executed packaging recycling reforms, is deterring investment and will damage local prosperity.”