Exports Minister Graham Stuart and Farming Minister Victoria Prentis explain how they plan to boost overseas sales of UK food and drink.
Too few people realise how crucial farmers are to this great country.
They don’t just keep Britain beautiful and preserve our rural communities – they are also critical pillars of our economy.
The agri-food and drink industry is our largest manufacturing sector, employing more than 4 million people and contributing around £120 billion to our economy.
That’s why we are launching a coronavirus ‘bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink.
Supporting farmers and others along the food and drink supply chain is absolutely central to getting the economy back on its feet.
Exports are particularly important in this.
The UK exported almost £24 billion of food, feed and drink last year.
Our produce is known across the world for its rich heritage, quality and class.
The beef we produce and the whisky we distil is enjoyed across the world.
We are excited to make the most of the great export opportunities currently on offer to us.
However, we know only one in five small food and drink businesses export overseas.
With SMEs making up 97 per cent of food and drink businesses in this country, there is a massive untapped opportunity out there.
So yesterday we launched a plan to help our great farmers and small food and drink businesses sell more across the world.
From talking to industry, we know many businesses want to export more, so we are offering tailored guidance and support.
We are promoting 50 Food and Drink Export Champions and a series of GREAT Food and Drink Exporting Masterclasses to inspire and support SMEs wanting to become exporters, as well as boosting export finance support.
This will be to the benefit of not only farmers looking to export their produce directly, but also to those supplying to wholesalers.
Secondly, we are taking British produce to the world through a blend of virtual and physical events.
We are boosting demand for exports through a tailored Food is GREAT marketing campaign in key countries, and launching an SME E-commerce accelerator pilot to help farmers and food and drink businesses sell overseas.
The first Defra Agri-Food Counsellor in the Gulf will also support businesses wanting to sell in that dynamic region.
Finally, we are encouraging further investment into the UK’s dynamic agriculture industry by hosting virtual investor roundtables with agriculture, food and drink and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s upcoming investment strategy.
This is all just the first step.
Longer-term, the free trade deals we are negotiating will boost demand for world-class British produce.
We are on the side of British farmers in negotiations with all trade partners.
Our manifesto commitment is clear that in all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.
This Government will work hard to ensure the high standards of British farmers are maintained.
To find out more about accessing these schemes, visit www.great.gov.uk/campaigns/agriculture-food-and-drink-support/, or find a local International Trade Advisor here www.great.gov.uk/advice/.
There are huge opportunities out there for British produce, both right now and in the future.
We are determined to help our farmers seize them.