Skills bodies in the food and drink trade have urged MPs to sign an Early Day Motion calling on the government to address a shortage of expertise in the sector.

The motion asks the government to recognise the importance of the food supply sector in policy-making. It is backed by skills councils include Improve, Lantra and Skillsmart Retail.

“There has been a tendency in the past for policy makers to overlook the food industry when it comes to talking about ‘priority’ sectors for economic growth,” said Improve chief executive Jack Matthews.

Food minister Jim Paice added: “It’s important we get the right skill set for today and also for tomorrow. I want to see this industry raise its profile as one with a huge economic impact and as an industry of huge social importance.”

He said the food and drink supply chain employed one in seven UK workers, representing the largest single manufacturing sector in the economy.