£86.4 billion spent on catering

Defra has published a snapshot of the UK’s food and farming industry. The new infographic shows that 71% of land is used for producing food, with the country currently 76% self-sufficient in home-grown food (this is higher than this study and this one suggest).

Meanwhile, consumers spend £198 billion on food, drink and catering. In all, expenditure on catering services totals £86.4 billion, or £12.40 per person. The catering sector actually employs almost 50% more people than food and drink retailers – 1.62m versus 1.16m. Food and drink manufacturers only employ 410,000.

The importance of the foodservice sector to the country’s food and drink industry often goes unnoticed, however.

Professor Tim Lang, a food policy expert at City University in London, recently suggested that the government’s 25-Year Food and Farming Plan “is completely missing the reality of the modern food system. It’s all about agritech, all about food manufacture,” he said, according to a report in Food Manufacture.

Lang explained that competitiveness is fine, but health and environmental issues are not getting a look in as part of the long-term policy vision.

The Plan, slated for publication anytime now but likely to be delayed until after the EU referendum, “will up the country’s ambitions for food and farming, setting out how we can grow more, buy more and sell more British food”, according to Defra.

Last year, the UK exported £18 billion worth of food and drink, including 73 protected regional and traditional products.

Mintel’s 2016 shopper survey showed that 55% of consumers want to buy British whenever they can. However, 45% feel it’s more expensive than imported goods and only a third are happy to pay the premium.

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