The UK government is to create a new Food and Drink Sector Council to help boost exports and innovation as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.
The new group, which has been welcomed by food and farming groups, was announced as part of the new industrial strategy this week.
“The opportunities – and challenges – for food and drink raised by exiting the EU are significant,” the strategy reads. “To address this, we are committing to establishing a new partnership between government and the whole food chain, working with industry leaders from agriculture, food and drink manufacturing, retail, hospitality and logistics.”
One of the council’s first tasks will be to “build on emerging proposals for a sector deal in food and drink manufacturing, including support to transform exports and capitalise on its unique innovation opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing”.
The industrial strategy also includes the “Transforming food production: from farm to fork” programme, which is part of the clean growth grand challenge. Environment secretary Michael Gove said the initiative will drive innovation in food production whilst reducing emissions, pollution, waste and soil erosion.
Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation director general said: “The creation of the council acknowledges the importance of the sector to both national security and economic growth, and will allow us to unlock our very significant productivity potential and secure our position as a global leader in safe, sustainable, and high-quality food and drink.”
Last week, at Food Matters Live in London, Wright warned that Brexit is the most serious challenge the food industry has faced since World War Two.