The Government is encouraging food and farming businesses to seize the opportunities to export and become more resilient by diversifying their markets
Seizing the opportunities to export can make food and farming businesses more profitable and more resilient as the Government pushes for ‘free and fair trade’ around the world.
That was the message from International Trade Secretary Liz Truss as she launched a new ‘Open Doors’ campaign which included Government support to help farmers and food producers take advantage of new opportunities at NFU Conference.
The campaign was launched in partnership with NFU, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and AHDB.
The government will provide practical help for farmers and producers, including special exporting masterclasses and a new mentoring programme to give would-be exporters the tools and knowledge they need to start selling their produce internationally.
Exports Minister at the Department for International Trade, Graham Stuart said they were looking to ensure even the smallest farmer was aware of the benefits of exporting.
But he said with 4 out of 5 food producers not currently exporting, they were looking to bring the opportunities to the farmgate.
“Exporters are typically more resilient, less likely to go bust,” he said.
“They are more innovative, more productive. They tend to pay higher wages.”
He highlighted their work to open up the US market for British lamb, after already opening the door for beef exporters.
They were also focusing on Asia.
“We know meat prices are higher in Asia than they are in Europe,” he said, highlighting 90 per cent of global growth was expected to come from outside of Europe.
He added ‘online missions’ were making it easier than ever before for smaller players to reach out to new markets.
Mr Stuart also emphasised for those concerned about trade liberalisation that there would be more parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals ‘than we have ever seen before’.
And Ms Truss, speaking at the NFU conference stated they were not going to lower standards in pursuit of trade deals.
“I believe the food Britain produces is competitive, very high quality and there is demand for it across the world,” she said.
She also reassured those with concerns about opening more access to the UK market for countries such as New Zealand by highlighting they were not utilising all their current lamb quota as they were focused on ‘higher value markets’.
NFU president Minette Batters said: “Britain’s iconic food and drink is sought after all around the world and has a stellar reputation for its quality, sustainability and high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection.
"Food and farming businesses have a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of exports and international trade and I look forward to working with the Department for International Trade on its new campaign.”
Ian Wright CBE, FDF chief executive said: “Open Doors is an important initiative at the right time for UK food exporters. To build growth, it’s vital that business seizes the many exporting opportunities opening up as new trade agreements gather pace.
“Increasing Government support will be warmly welcomed by food and drink manufacturers as they chart their entry into new international markets. As the UK re-establishes itself as a great independent trading nation, our quick return to growth will be essential to strengthen resilience across the industry.
"Our continued work with Government and industry partners is vital in ensuring that food and drink exporters have the support they need.”
AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “The new AHDB 5 year strategy recognises the great export potential of UK agriculture and AHDB is delighted to be working with DIT on this campaign to promote our farmer and processor stakeholders products in a valuable and diverse global marketplace, putting UK food on the world map.”