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    Calls to support food and drink manufacturing sector

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    Food and drink sector play a crucial role in the UK economy, contributing over £35 billion in gross value but has seen a sustained decline in critical investment over the last few years, states a new report released by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

    ONS data shows that over the year to the third quarter of 2023, investment in the food and drink manufacturing industry was down 33.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, contrasting with the UK as a whole, where investment rose by 5.4 per cent.

    The FDF is calling on the government to “act now to create the circumstances for further investment and sustained growth”.

    Commenting on the report, Karen Betts, Chief Executive of the FDF, said, “This report sets out how critical a thriving food and drink manufacturing sector is to the UK’s broader economy, as well as to everyone’s daily lives. Unlike many industries, ours is spread evenly across the country, with regions of real strength like the Midlands, North of England, Scotland’s central belt and South Wales, where we provide good jobs and great careers in big and small companies.

    “But the government should not take our industry for granted. Our sector urgently needs investment – in science, innovation, automation and new technologies – if it’s to remain the powerhouse that our country needs it to be into the future. We need a strategic approach from government looking at attracting new investment and building productivity – to set the conditions for success into the next decade. Government must also look at how we are regulated – muddled regulation, like ‘not for EU’ labelling, a poorly functioning Apprenticeship Levy or badly executed packaging recycling reforms, is deterring investment and will damage local prosperity.”

    Prior to Wednesday (6) Budget, the FDF was calling on the government to work with the sector to agree on long-term policies that could foster private investment, unlock further productivity growth, boost exports, and secure the future of the food and drink sector in the UK. This includes a formal food and drink innovation partnership and financial incentives through a Food and Drink Manufacturing Transformation Fund to expedite the adoption of automation and digital technology.

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