UK food & drink sector set for further growth

3rd October 2017
Simon Walton
Partner & Head of Practice

The UK’s booming food and drink industry is set for strong future growth due to global demand for UK manufactured produce, a recent sector report from Santander and EEF suggests. Food and drink exports have gone from strength to strength in recent years with 2016 marking the first year that the value of exports of the food and drink sector exceeded £20bn.


Only one in five UK food and drink manufacturers currently exports, so with UK produce in high demand there’s a clear growth opportunity for many UK businesses.


Along with exports, the report identified four other key drivers of future growth:


Healthier food options – The rise of the healthy eating and “natural foods” agenda shows no signs of abating. The growing popularity and the consumer desire to lead healthier and cleaner lives has resulted in manufacturers looking to reduce sugar, salt and artificial trans fats content in their products, as well as launching designated healthy food lines.


Increase in R&D and innovation – The UK food and drink sector, given its size, invests a low amount in R&D compared to other sectors, making up 2.9% of total manufacturing R&D in 2015. An increase in R&D and innovation to keep up with the consumer’s constant requirement for ‘new’ and ‘different’ products should lead to additional growth.


Smart packaging and sustainability – Smarter packaging has the potential to revolutionise the food and drink sector in areas of food quality and safety, waste minimisation and consumer convenience. This is of growing importance given that the UK threw away 4.4 million tonnes of avoidable waste in 2015 and is currently not self-sufficient in fulfilling its demand for food.


Growth of online shopping – Online grocery shopping is becoming increasingly common in the UK, as consumers take advantage of the greater convenience supermarket deliveries offer them. Currently only 1 in 10 consumers do all their shopping online, but the Institution of Grocery Distribution forecasts online shopping growth of 68% between 2016 and 2021.


The findings of this report leave no doubt over the potential of the UK food & drink market. It highlights that opportunity is ripe for businesses whose leadership is willing to change, diversify and take a step into the less-known, if not the unknown, in order to unlock new markets and be a step ahead of the competition.


With this in mind, businesses who want to successfully appoint the required talent to drive growth will need to be pro-active and imaginative in their future recruitment campaigns.  Having a strong, transparent and candid relationship with a leading recruiter will offer a broader view of the market and offer a wider choice of candidates that can help drive the business forward.


Berwick Partners can add invaluable expertise and access to a variety of networks to ensure we find you with the best person for the role. We lead the way in recruiting senior leadership positions across both the Private and Public sectors regionally and nationally. We support organisations in making key appointments which have a critical impact upon their businesses’ future and success.


Simon Walton is a Partner and Head of the Consumer Practice at Berwick Partners.

Categories: Consumer