The government revealed its plan for the Food and Drink Sector Council in its Industrial Strategy White Paper. Outlining the purpose of the Council, the paper states: "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."
It continues: "This new Food and Drink Sector Council will lead the work to secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink. An early task for this sector council will be to build on emerging proposals for a sector deal in food and drink manufacturing, including support to transform exports and capitalise on its unique innovation opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing."
Would like to see salmon involved
Sandison said: “The introduction of a Food and Drink Sector Council is a welcome move and, as the UK’s largest food export, we would like to see salmon and other sectors with a strong track record in exporting become involved."
Shetland-based Sandison added: "A joined up food industry can only be good for the economy, innovation and the development of career opportunities, which is especially important for sectors like salmon farming which operates in remote, rural areas.”
Recognition from government
Commenting on the government's announcement, Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “This is great news. We have been calling for a Food and Drink Sector Council for some time and this is recognition from government of the central importance of the food and drink supply chain to the economy.
“UK food and drink is a major national asset and the envy of the world. The creation of the Council acknowledges the importance of the sector to both national security and economic growth, and will allow us to unlock our very significant productivity potential and secure our position as a global leader in safe, sustainable, and high-quality food and drink.
"We will continue to work closely with both Defra and BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to ensure we secure a transformative sector deal for food and drink manufacturing.”?
Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and the wider food chain contributes £112bn gross value added and employs one in eight people across the UK.