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New government food and drink council to secure global trade

Published:  28 November, 2017

The drinks industry has welcomed a new move by the government to set up a new Food and Drink Sector Council that will lead work to secure the UK’s position as global leader in “sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink”.

Plans for the council was revealed in the government’s new Industrial Strategy published yesterday (Monday, 27 November) outlined the government plans for development within the economy. It recognised the importance of the “world-renowned” food and drink sector in the UK.

The strategy, called Building a Britain for the Future also recognised that the challenges facing the drink sector with Brexit is “significant”.

“With products in demand across the globe, from Scotch Whisky to cheese, confectionery and premium seafood. The sector plays a key part in all local economies and devolved nations,” the strategy said.

“The opportunities – and challenges for food and drink raised by exiting the EU are significant. To address this, we are committing to establishing a new partnership between government and the whole food chain, working with industry leaders from agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, retail, hospitality and logistics.”

Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) Karen Betts said it was “right” that the government recognised the importance of the food and drink sector and welcomed news of the council highlighting that Scotch Whisky makes up 20% of the UK’s food and drink exports.

“The Scotch Whisky industry looks forward to playing a full part in the proposed food and drink manufacturing sector deal, utilising decades of experience and expertise to boost exports and drive productivity,” said Betts.

“Then, by going beyond this, we are eager to work with government to develop a specific UK spirits sector deal which will build on the success of Scotch Whisky and other UK spirits by supporting growth in an increasingly competitive global market place.”

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) also welcomed the news.

“The proposed partnership with industry, through a new Food & Drink Sector Council, is something we will fully engage in given it spans our whole industry, from grain to glass,” said BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds.

“We are already working closely with DEFRA on a £100 million export strategy for British beer, and also through the Courtauld Commitment to deliver a 20% per capita reduction in food waste by 2025.”

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association also praised the government’s commitment to create a Food and Drink Sector Council to champion great British produce.

"Given the British spirits industry’s significant contribution to UK exports, accounting for nearly one quarter of all food and drink exports, we also look forward to developing a specific spirits sector deal so that British spirit producers can continue to lead the way on export growth and accessing new markets following Brexit,” he said.