Unlocking talent: The key to driving food and drink productivity

The food and drink sector has a strong record on productivity growth, outstripping overall UK productivity and many global competitors. This report identifies essential steps to maintaining the talent pipeline.

In this report:


Dame Fiona Kendrick
Chairman & CEO Nestlé UK & Ireland and FDF President

Increasing the productivity of UK industry is a national economic priority

In July 2015, the government laid out an ambitious call to action for UK business to close the productivity gap with our global competitors, and to overtake them.

As the largest sector of UK manufacturing, food and drink has an enormous contribution to make. Since 2009, productivity performance in food and drink has increased by 11 per cent. We've got a great story to tell, but we also know we have more to do. Bringing the right people with the right skills into our businesses is central – the skills gap facing food and drink is not new, but the need to close it has never been more urgent.

So now is the time to act. This is why I have spearheaded a project to open up the pipeline of future talent for our sector. FDF and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, alongside Nestlé, apetito, Butt Foods, Mars, Mondelez and Premier Foods, have identified the key actions that our sector will now take to ensure we can recruit and retain the next generation of food engineers, scientists and leaders.

Our priorities are to increase the quantity and quality of our apprenticeships, improve our engagement with schools and our collaboration with Higher and Further Education and showcase the exciting career opportunities on offer. Of course, skills and talent are not the complete picture. With a group of senior leaders from across UK industry, I have been looking at different areas of business which drive productivity improvement. Sir Charlie Mayfield has rightly said that, for this to work, it must be a movement involving thousands of companies, large and small, from every sector of our economy.

For our part at Nestlé, we are kickstarting that movement, taking the productivity debate to our factories throughout the regions – bringing the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine to life. We know we must work with local employers and government to identify what actions we must take together to close Britain's productivity gap. I appeal to you to join us in this movement, and ensure British business leads the way in raising living standards for people right across the UK.

Last reviewed: 17 Jan 2017