Industry-wide report by Grant Thornton highlighting key growth opportunities for the food and drink industry, the UK's largest manufacturing sector.

Our Industry in Pictures

  • The UK food & drink manufacturing sector employs more than 117,000 EU workers almost 1/3 of our workforce
  • The UK is Ireland's largest trading partner for food and drink. 41%of its food & drink exports go to the UK (€4.4bn)
  • Food & drink contributes £28.8bn to the economy
  • Soft drink companies have reduced sugars & calories from their products by 18% since 2012
  • With the support of industry, the UK Government has set up the most ambitious sugars reduction programme anywhere in the world to help lower sugar in the national diet
  • The food & drink industry is the biggest manufacturing sector in the country...larger than automotive & aerospace combined
  • In 2017, total food & drink export figures were worth more than £22bn
  • Grow exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drink by a third...reaching £6bn by 2020
  • Our top three export markets are Ireland, USA & France
  • The food supply chain employs almost 4 million people & generates over £112 billion of value for the economy each year
  • 97% of our businesses are SMEs
  • Our industry employs around 400,000 people
  • We will need 140,000 new recruits by 2024 to feed an expected population of 70m people & meet market demands
  • Our industry has a turnover of £97.3bn accounting for 19% of total UK manufacturing
  • FDF has pledged to triple apprenticeships within the food & drink industry by 2020

More Information

Please contact Sarah Malone ( for more information.

Last reviewed: 29 Aug 2018