Export action plan aims to boost British food

British food and drink firms could be set to benefit from a £500m export action plan, launched last weekend by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

Speaking at the major food and drink exhibition Anuga, in Cologne, Paterson said the Food and Drink International Action Plan would be delivered by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), along with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The plan follows the government’s ambition to raise UK exports to £1 trillion, increasing UK export companies by 100,000. Around 15% of the UK’s overall manufacturing workforce are employed in the food and drink sector, equating to around 400,000 people, with a £90bn turnover.

Yet government and food companies have identified the export potential for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to untapped markets and will use the plan, which is called ‘Food is Great’, to encourage the 90% of SMEs not exporting to do so.

Paterson said: “Brand Britain is recognised and revered internationally. The Food and Drink Exports Action Plan and the launch of ‘Food is GREAT’ are important, as they will give quality British produce an even higher profile, boost our economy and create jobs.

“There are huge opportunities for British food companies to export all over the world and I’m determined to help our firms exploit them.”

Trade and investment minister Lord Green said demand for British food and drink products overseas is quickly growing. “A 15% increase in overseas sales in the last two years is a clear sign of the opportunities available to the British food and drink manufacturers working in this sector,” he said.

“This Action Plan reinforces the UK government’s support for such a prosperous sector with an emphasis on how, together with industry, we can support businesses in the global export markets.”

Meanwhile, chef ambassador for the Food is Great campaign Tom Aikens, who has created food and drink menus for UK delegates at Anuga, said: “People are becoming increasingly concerned with the origins of what they are consuming and exactly what they are eating.”