The Government has announced it has launched a plan that will ‘turbocharge’ the export efforts of the UK’s food and drink businesses by giving them ‘unprecedented help’ to capitalise on new trade agreements.
The so-called ‘bounce back’ plan was jointly announced by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which said they will offer ‘immediate support’ from ‘farm to fork’ to help businesses in the industry grow their overseas trade activity.
The plan involves exporting masterclass webinars, showcasing UK exports to new markets overseas and the launch of an ‘SME ‘E-commerce Accelerator Pilot’ to boost international e-commerce backing for small and medium-sized firms in the sector.
The agriculture, food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and supporting around 4 million jobs. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7 billion an increase of 4.9 per cent from 2018.
However, although the industry has done well to adapt during the Coronavirus outbreak, exports have suffered during this time, with sheep meat exports alone down by 27 per cent in April.
Industry bodies have welcomed the plan, with a spokeswoman for the National Farmers Union (NFU) calling it “encouraging”, adding that it is good to see that the Government is committing additional investment in the industry.
Her words were echoed by a spokesman for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), who said that the plan will provide “significant support to many of the UK businesses we assist in growing their overseas trade.”