Powering our nation across every community

05 March 2024

This report highlights the strong and resourceful story of our industry - with manufacturing sites in communities right across the UK, supporting nearly half a million people with good jobs, and great careers and adding £35 billion to the UK economy.


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With the report data demonstrating the resilience of our industry, at a time when manufacturers have faced several challenges over recent years, from Brexit, Covid-19, extreme weather and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Each region and nation of the UK has played a vital role in ensuring food & drink is enjoyed by consumers at home and exported around the world, helping to power communities in all four corners of the UK.

Food and drink manufacturing contributes:

  • £35bn to the UK economy
  • 18.8% of total UK manufacturing turnover

However, critical investment in the sector has seen a sustained decline over the last few years, with investment down 33.2% in 2023 compared to 2019. Therefore, 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. 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.

But the government should not take this for granted. Our sector urgently needs investment – in innovation, automation and new technologies – if it’s to remain the powerhouse that it is into the future. We need a strategic approach from government looking at where we excel and how we are regulated – to set the conditions for success into the next decade. Muddled regulation, like ‘not for EU’ labelling, a poorly functioning Apprenticeship Levy or badly executed packaging recycling reforms, deter investment and damage local prosperity.”