Ian Wright FDF

Ian Wright, Director General of the FDF

The FDF has urged whoever wins Thursday’s general election to do more to unlock the potential of the £21.5bn food and drink industry.

The federation has called for a dedicated, industry and government-led food and drink manufacturing council, to work in partnership with companies to boost exports and employment in the UK.

Giving his first official address since taking over as director general, Ian Wright told the organisation’s annual dinner last week that greater cooperation with government was vital.

“Commitment from the next government to a food and drink manufacturing council will be key to accessing the huge opportunity in the UK’s largest manufacturing sector,” he said.

“Helping Britain’s producers to break into export markets, up-skill employees or innovate for health is a clear ‘win-win’ for the sector and society.

“FDF will make sure the new government, MPs, peers and policymakers are aware of the huge contribution the sector makes and what more we need to flourish.”

With around 400,000 employees across the UK and contributing £21.5bn of gross value added to the national economy annually, FDF president Dame Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland, echoed the call.

“We are a hugely diverse sector and I want our needs to be better understood,” she said. “More than 95% of our businesses are SMEs, rooted in their communities and helping to drive both growth and innovation in the sector.

“We are calling on the next Government to work with us through a dedicated Food and Drink Manufacturing Council.

“By working in partnership, in the same way the automotive and aerospace industries do, decision-makers will understand our challenges and help provide the right support to boost our productivity, drive exports and turn creative ideas into brand new, world-class products.”