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Sir, As Brexit looms, the UK food industry must increase its spend on research and development.

In the Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined plans to boost R&D spend to 2.4% of GDP. But this is only the OECD global average and, in the sector deals outlined in the Industrial Strategy, the food industry was not listed as a priority.

Almost all independent food technology R&D is based in Europe. For the post-Brexit UK food industry to remain competitive and preserve its ability to trade with our neighbours, we must keep up with European food requirements, legislation and regulation.

If the government’s priorities are elsewhere, the industry must self-regulate in this regard - and a boost to R&D investment will be key.

Multinationals must dedicate R&D spend specifically to the UK market. That way they will be able to quickly respond to the requirements of both the newly independent UK market and its European trade partners.

Every issue faced by the food sector - health and safety, shelf-life, waste reduction, process streamlining - can only be tackled with continued progress and innovation. To prevent the UK food industry from being left behind post-Brexit, we must have R&D capabilities that can keep up.

Neil Hansford, food application specialist, Air Products