British food and drink sector strengthens

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), data by Santander Corporate & Commercial has shown that the UK’s food and drink sector grew 6% in 2014 to a total of 8,225 firms. 

Furthermore, data from the Food and Drink Federation showed that, with a turnover of £95.4 billion, this is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK.

The food and drink industry also accounted for 18.3% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover. Despite these figures, it is suggested that there is an education gap when it comes to what Brits think are exported from Britain to the rest of the world.

At 18%, local meats were reportedly among the produce we would like to see exported beyond the UK. This came behind beers and wines (28%) and cheese and dairy (26%).

However, a third of Brits believed the food and drink sector was struggling and 18% did not believe British food to be popular in other parts of the world. In fact, the sector reportedly exports nearly £12.8 billion of food and non-alcoholic drink products a year, three-quarters (75%) of which goes to the European Union.

“The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has become a major UK success story on an international scale,” explained Mark Collings, head of international, Santander SME banking.

“British people are proud of their local produce and certainly miss their favourite tea, chocolate, meat and cheese when travelling abroad, yet many do not realise quite how popular these items have become beyond our shores. Over the years the ‘Made in Britain’ brand has become synonymous with good-quality products and services.”

In terms of food and drink exports, Britons apparently believed that most of the UK’s exports went to the US (39%), followed by Ireland (32%), Spain (24%) and France (20%). In actuality, Ireland is our biggest exporter, leading France, the Netherlands, Germany and then the US.

“At Santander we want to help food and drink businesses really capitalise on this global success and have developed strong expertise to help firms grow and export – in particular we want to help them recognise the international potential of their products and look at exporting opportunities,” concluded Collings.

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