The Food and Drink Federation has launched a new group for small and medium-sized companies in a bid to challenge the perception that it only represents big businesses.

The SME Forum will represent the views of SMEs on the Federation's executive committee, its main decision-making body, in an attempt to give them a greater say in how the trade body is run.

The FDF currently has about 200 members, 80 of which are SMEs, with the remainder large companies. Yet about two-thirds of food and drink businesses in the UK are believed to be SMEs.

The forum will be headed by Paul Freeston, chief executive of frozen food supplier Apetito and vice president of the FDF, who conceded that some SMEs did cbelieve the FDF was more concerned with larger companies.

"This signals that we have to do a better job at raising our profile among the SME community," he said.

Saturday Essay p22