We need more support from government to help British food brands showcase talents and innovations to the rest of the world

Do you agree that our island nation could lead the way in global food and drink innovation? For cutting-edge innovation, we tend to think of the US – and more specifically, the likes of Silicon Valley. Yet the perfect environment for start-ups and new ideas exists far closer to home. 

We should be proud of what the UK has done already in food and drink creation. Our British ‘can do’ attitude is promoted by rambunctious start-up groups like Bread & Jam, SME resource clubs like Young Foodies, access to relatively easy fundraising platforms, accelerator programmes aplenty and Dragon’s Den-type shows in our sitting rooms. We have state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities, our consumer base continually demands better from brands and is prepared to try new things, and our market size is big enough to be worth going after but small enough to handle. In short, if you want pioneering technology, go to Silicon Valley – if you want the latest in food and drink innovation, come to the M4 corridor.

But we now need to ramp up these efforts. With trade shows back on, it’s time for us to show our stripes on the world stage. We need more support from government to help British food brands showcase talents and innovations to the rest of the world. With the rapid rise of DTC, q-commerce and the digital age, the playing field between established big brands, SMEs and start-ups is levelling up. If we get behind British brands properly – with meaningful support from grants and loans together with the use of local embassies, promoting young people into entrepreneurship through tailored courses, and more inviting financial starting points – it will ultimately bring more jobs and investment to our shores.

Look at the impact that brands such as Fever-Tree, Ella’s Kitchen and Innocent Drinks have already had, with many more following in their footsteps including Candy Kittens, Fuel10K and Deliciously Ella.

Some of the most ingenious innovations in food products I’ve been tracking recently include the exponential rise of plant-based substitutes, keto/paleo diets, sugar substitutes with products like monk fruit, the use of CBD, protein-boosted products and low & no-alcohol drinks. And of course, brands with a conscience are on the rise, evidenced by the B Corp movement, the reduced use of single-use plastic and shift to alternatives, sustainability becoming front and centre of strategies and even the gender and origin of exec teams being declared on packaging – all important steps for this new wave of brands.

There’s never been a more exciting time to work in food – and our government should support Britain to set these new standards for others to follow.