The industry must work with government to develop robust new strategies for the future, says Nick Bunker

What does the future hold for UK food and drink manufacturing?

A new report by the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge sets out the challenges the industry will have to address as we look to maintain food security against the combined effects of climate change, higher global demand for agricultural products and increasing pressure on finite resources.

The report was commissioned by the FDF's Competitiveness Steering Group which I chair and forms part of our efforts to articulate more clearly the value of our sector to the UK economy.

We shouldn't lose sight of the positives. Food and drink has been one of the most resilient elements of manufacturing throughout the recent economic turbulence. It has invested heavily in innovation, R&D and new products and it provides well-paid and secure employment.

But when thinking about our resource-constrained future, such success cannot and should not be taken for granted. It's striking that all those who took part in the IfM's scenario work whether from industry, government or civil society groups recognised 'business as usual' is no longer good enough.

They rightly felt we need to change the rules of the game and that will require: more leadership from government and industry; the creation of genuine partnerships between the food sector and different Whitehall departments; and a willingness on all sides to accelerate the good work already underway.

Agreeing how industry and the government should work together to respond strategically to the challenges ahead is rightly a priority for FDF, as is encouraging the government to put our sector at the heart of its economic thinking.

But IfM's new research also shows a strong appetite among all of us involved in food policy to put in place a coherent strategy for the future of the UK food production.

We made some progress under the Food 2030 banner, but more must now be done to co-create a positive vision for the future based on strong evidence, consistent regulation and, ultimately, consumer engagement. All of that must be underpinned by proportionate and balanced policymaking that reflects the key strategic role our sector will surely play in ensuring the nation's future food security.

As the UK's biggest manufacturing sector, we also want to see a fiscal framework that, among many things, promotes resource efficiency, stimulates innovation and ensures, above all else, that the UK will attract the levels of investment that will be needed if our sector is to continue thriving in the decades ahead.

But when you look at the huge challenges we face, from the health of the nation to the health of the planet, it's clear we can only respond effectively if we have a successful UK food manufacturing sector. But I remain convinced our sector will successfully adapt and respond in a way that benefits society as a whole. I saw this in action earlier this month when I travelled to Ghana to see the benefits of our partnerships with Cadbury cocoa farmers, the Fairtrade Foundation, the Ghanaian government and NGO partners.

And I am confident we will be able to work across with our own government to bring these broad ambitions to life, in a way that recognises the value of our sector.

Nick Bunker is president UK & Ireland, Kraft Foods and Cadbury