A global summit and a showcase of food and drink was held yesterday in a bid to highlight the UK success story in exports.

The Global Business Summit on Retail, Food and Drink saw the food industry discuss issues including global challenges, health and wellbeing  and sustainability and was followed by the tasting for international journalists in key export target countries

Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry, with an annual turnover of £76.2bn and the industry is expected to grow 20% by 2020. The event was held because food and drink exports rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2011, totalling over £12.1bn.

Commenting on the event, the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) said the industry had been working with government partners on a strategy to ensure that UK food and drink companies can take advantage of a surge in interest in British products as diets become increasingly Westernised and UK food is recognised for its quality and safety.

For example, United Biscuits has produced a product especially for the Nigerian market, working closely with Unicef and it has also enjoyed success with its long-established McVitie’s Digestive, which is now the top selling breakfast biscuit in Italy – with around 8.3 million packs sold in 2011.
Melanie Leech, FDF director general, said: “The discussion highlighted many of the issues that the Food and Drink Federation has been addressing through its own industry action, particularly the importance and growth of health and wellbeing and the need to deliver our growth sustainably.
“I am pleased to hear of the appointment of Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo, as business ambassador for the food and drink industries. Our small and medium-sized companies need to maximise their potential with overseas markets and his role will help SMEs access global markets and grow their business overseas.”