Automation and digitisation in food and drink manufacturing presents unique challenges which can prevent UK manufacturers benefitting from rapid innovation in this area. There is potential to generate significant revenue as automation investment costs decline and productivity returns rise.

Sustainability and achieving net-zero emissions are key governmental and societal priorities. Clean sector growth will depend on new technologies that support low-carbon energy delivery. Adopting these technologies will be crucial to meeting demands.

Declining labour availability is also a challenge to which automation offers a solution, while providing an opportunity for the UK’s workforce to be upskilled significantly.

The FDF stays up-to-date with funding opportunities that arise from government need to address these challenges. Alongside this, we offer members access to research institutions and affiliates with relevant knowledge.

Updates & milestones

Digital Supply Chain - Why and how the UK food and drink industry should lead the way

On the 16th of September 10:00AM-11:30AM, the Digital Catapult will be hosting an event aimed at facilitating the building of a world class, digitised, sustainable and resilient food system, capable of responding to external shocks.

With our industry facing significant pressures across areas such as supply chains, labour supply and exports - this event couldn’t be more timely. Attendees will hear from industry experts, including FDF’s CEO, Ian Wright who will be part of a panel exploring the strategic challenges food and drink faces on funding and investment for innovation. There will also be opportunities to learn from technical experts at the Digital Catapult, as well as to participate in discussions on how to finance digital transformation and bring stakeholder networks together.

More information and registration

Budget 2021: The Help to Grow scheme

The Government has announced new growth support for eligible small businesses[1]. The support will begin in the Autumn. More details

Help to Grow: Management

Leaders and senior managers can access a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK. The programme includes practical learning and 1:1 support from a business mentor and is designed to fit around full-time work. 30,000 places are available (over 3 years). Total cost for participants is £750 (after a 90% government subsidy).

Help to Grow: Digital

Small businesses will have access to free impartial advice on how technology can boost their performance through a new online platform. Eligible businesses can apply for a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software (up to £5,000). Vouchers will be available for software that can:

  • build customer relationships and increase sales
  • make the most of selling online
  • manage their accounts and finances digitally

[1] Must be operating for more than 1 year and employ between 5 to 249 employees

FDF Podcast – An Automated and Digitised Future

Catch up on Day Two: Session One of the FDF Convention discussing the immediate needs for an automated and digitised future.

Available for listening on Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music and all other major podcast platforms.

Listen now

FDF Cymru partners with Sheffield AMRC

With the support of the Welsh Government, FDF Cymru has partnered with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru. The partnership will bring together businesses across the food and drink sector in Wales to address practical challenges through the adoption of emerging technologies. Demonstrator case studies will be carried out to assist the industry in the adoption of automation and digitisation.

Pete Robertson, Acting Director, FDF Cymru, said:

“I’m delighted that FDF Cymru has been chosen as effectively a brand ambassador for AMRC Cymru. By working together we will better understand the barriers food and drink manufacturers currently face when it comes to implementing newer technologies, and in doing so we hope to be able to support wider productivity gains across the industry.

"I’m very much looking forward to putting in place a programme of engagement so we can begin speaking to as many businesses as possible.”

View AMRC press release 

AMRC Cymru document: Food and drink - what we can do for you 

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