Leading decision makers from across the UK food and drink industry have formed a partnership with the government to boost productivity and make the sector more competitive and sustainable.
The new Food and Drink Sector Council, which met for the first time on 29 January, is made up of leading figures from Britain’s agriculture, manufacturing, retail, logistics and hospitality sectors.
Council members include the likes of Judith Batchelar, the director of Sainsbury’s, Gavin Darby, the CEO of Premier Foods, Iain Ferguson, chairman of the infrastructure firm Stobart Group, and Cassandra Stavrou, the founder of Propercorn.
By establishing specialist working groups, the Council will develop recommendations and build on emerging proposals for each sector, for both industry and government.
The aim of the Council is to boost skills in the food and drink industry, increase agricultural output and improve the nation’s nutrition.
Speaking following the first meeting, Ferguson, who is also the Council’s joint chair, said: “Today has been possible due to the huge amount of work and commitment to bring the sector together.
“It is exciting to see everyone in the same room working together to address the opportunities and challenges we face as an industry.”
The Council will build on the successes the UK food and drink has achieved in recent years. Exports of quality British produce, worth approximately £20bn, have already reached 200 countries around the world, government research found.
It is hoped that through collaboration, the food and drink industry will be better placed to take advantage of emerging opportunities to access more markets around the world and boost British exports.
Commenting on the progress of the industry, business secretary Greg Clark said: “From Scotch Whisky, to award winning cheeses and premium seafood, the produce from our thriving food and drink sector is in demand and enjoyed around the world.
“The government is working together with industry to build on these exceptional strengths, boost its productivity and seize the future opportunities of this national success story.”
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, added that the launch of the Council marked a significant gear change in support for the food and drink industry. He said: “Increasing productivity will benefit consumers and businesses, creating jobs and providing a real boost to our economy.
“This ambitious partnership between government and industry will secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable and high-quality food and drink.”
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