Number of food and drink sector employees rises

The environment secretary has announced that the number of people employed in the food and drink industry rose by 71,000 between 2013 and 2014.

The figures come from the latest government Food Statistics Pocketbook and show the rise in employment in the sector from the beginning of 2013 to the same time this year. The number of people working in food and drink now accounts for 13% of national employment, totalling at more than 3.6 million.

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: Britains food industry is an economic powerhouse driving growth and jobs. We want more people to buy British both at home and abroad.

The statistics also revealed other positive news. The total value of food and drink exports is rising, worth 6 billion more than in 2005, currently standing at 18.9 billion. Furthermore, they showed that the value of agriculture to the economy increased by 7% between 2012 and 2013

Truss added: We have some brilliant success stories like Step Farm in Oxford, part of an organic dairy co-op that sold a staggering 40 million pints of cheese, milk and cream to America and Europe last year, or Suma in Yorkshire who sell our organic veg to Hong Kong. We want to see more businesses like this striking deals and trading our high quality produce abroad.

Defra said that the government was working hard to enable the food and farming industry to compete with the rest of the world. It gave examples such as cracking down on food fraud, making it easier for government departments, schools and hospitals to buy local produce, and helping businesses strike lucrative deals abroad by removing barriers to trade and opening up new markets.

The Food Statistics Pocketbook is available to view in full here

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