Key industry data

  • The UK food & drink manufacturing sector employs more than 103000 EU workers - over 1/4 of our workforce
  • The UK is Ireland's largest trading partner for food & drink. 37% of its food & drink exports go to the UK (€4.6bn)
  • Food & drink contributes £31.1bn to the economy
  • Sugar intake from overall soft drink consumption is down over 17% since 2013
  • With the support of industry, the UK Government has set up the most ambitious sugars reduction programme anywhere in the world to help lower sugar in the national diet
  • The food & drink industry is the biggest manufacturing sector in the country, larger than automotive & aerospace combined
  • In 2018, total food & drink export figures were worth more than £23bn
  • Our top three export markets are Ireland, the USA & France
  • Grow exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drink by a third to reach £6bn by 2020
  • The food supply chain employs 4 million people & generates over £121 billion of added value for the economy each year
  • 97% of our 7,290 food & drink businesses are SMEs
  • Our industry employs over 450,000 people
  • We will need 140,000 new recruits by 2024 to feed an expected population of 70m people & meet market demands
  • Our industry has a turnover of £104bn, accounting for 19% of total UK manufacturing
  • The top 3 opportunities identified for food and drink manufacturers in 2019 are domestic demand, healthy food products & investment

Last reviewed: 01 May 2019