For two weeks, people working in the food and drink industry will come together to promote the benefits of buying and eating British produce, with more and more British producers taking part each year.
Agriculture plays an incredibly important role in the UK; according to the government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, currently there are around 476,000 people working across agricultural holdings in the UK, accounting for around 1.5 per cent of the UK’s total workforce. The agricultural sector is witnessing continued growth, with its workforce seeing an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2013.
Aldermore Bank takes a look at the importance of backing this important group of businesses.
Farming is key to Britain’s economy
As well as its workforce, the agricultural industry’s contribution to the UK economy has also increased in recent years. Between 2013 and 2014, agriculture’s Gross Value Added (output minus intermediate consumption) rose by £306 million, reaching £9.9 billion. In a speech given at the Oxford Farming Conference earlier on this year, food and farming were hailed as the key to Britain’s economic security in the future, and are at the heart of the government’s long-term economic plan.
The government has plenty of reasons to be so optimistic about the UK agricultural industry. Britain is now the largest producer of sheep, the third largest producer of cattle and the seventh largest cereal producer out of all 28 counties in the EU. The government has signed deals to open 600 food markets abroad since 2010, while food and drink exports have risen by 7 per cent, to £19 billion. Sales of English and Welsh wine are set to break the £100 million barrier this year, while more than a billion pints of British beer have been sold abroad for the first time.
Looking at the bigger picture
While the agricultural industry’s contribution to the UK economy is undeniable, when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the benefits go even further. Farming forms the foundation of the UK’s food and drink industry, worth almost £100 billion. It is estimated that for every £1 that farming contributes to the UK economy, food manufacturers and wholesalers contribute a further £5.
Farmers drive demand in the agricultural supply chain, generating further economic growth. Aside from the more obvious needs like livestock feed, fertiliser and equipment, farms are spending money on everything from vets and farm advisers to accountants and solicitors. As the farming industry continues to grow, these other businesses will also benefit, further contributing to the overall economy.
As part of the British Food Fortnight celebrations, the organisers of the event, Love British Food, have asked a number of businesses why they believe it’s important to support British food producers:
“If everyone supports their local food producers, we not only get great produce but we are also supporting the local community and strengthening our local and national economy.”
Caroline Spiby of @CarolinesDairy
“When buying local and British produce, the consumer is putting money directly back into the pockets of the farmers or the food retailers who support British farmers.”
The Ownsworth Family of @Ownsworths
“We must support our local producers if we are going to have a viable and sustainable food industry going forward.”
“Buying British helps keep money in local and rural economies – where most of the food is made. It supports our farmers, fisherman and food producers.”
Andy Swinscoe of @CourtyardDairy
“Buying British produce supports our economy, has a low carbon footprint and keeps many rural people in employment.”
Jemima Palmer-Tompkinson of @PottedGameCo
For more information about supporting British producers through British Food Fortnight and beyond, head to the Love British Food website.
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