Food and drink manufacturers in England and Wales are preparing to employ tens of thousands of additional people during the next five years, according to research from banking group Lloyds.
All of the companies questioned as part of the study predicted growth up to 2020 and it was estimated that more than 73,700 jobs would be added to the industry in that time. 72% of the 113 respondents planned to export their products in the next five years – up 9% on 2014 – as companies capitalise on a surge in interest in provenance.
They plan to invest on average 25% of their current turnover on research and development (R&D) projects during the next five years, with half of all respondents planning to form partnership with organisations in their supply chain to develop new products, streamline manufacturing processes and boost productivity.
But, despite the sector’s positive outlook, more than a quarter of firms were worried by the skills gap emerging from the retirement of older employees and the under-training of those entering the industry. The threat was described by Lloyds as “one of the biggest challenges facing the food and drink industry today”.
Andrew Connors, head of mid-sized business at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The contrast between the 2014 report and our latest research is really positive, with significant job creation and investment figures revealed.
“Productivity presents an ongoing challenge for the UK economy. Against this backdrop, the continued commitment from food and drink manufacturers to drive productivity and innovation through R&D is a clear indication of the crucial role this sector plays in the broader economy.”
And Food and Drink Federation director general Ian Wright added: “Britain’s food and drink industry is world class. Although many of the most dynamic and best-loved food and drink brands originate here in the UK, our producers are exporting innovative techniques and ways of working worldwide. This report confirms that trading internationally is a real driver for growth, especially the opportunities offered by non-EU markets and developing economies.
“Our continued and growing success abroad speaks to the popularity of UK plc and our food and drink manufacturers’ track record of producing original, quality products.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020