FDF director general Ian Wright has said an effective partnership between the industry and government has “never been more important”.

Commenting following Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Statement yesterday (25 November), Wright said the food and drink sector faces significant economic challenges and needs to be ready to embark on a new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world.

“We need a new industrial strategy, informed by the particular needs of food and drink manufacturers, so we can sustain our workforce needs, access essential raw ingredients and maintain consumer confidence in our industry,” he added.

‘Massive untapped opportunity for UK businesses’

Wright identified positive aspects to the Chancellor’s statement, saying support for the productivity agenda and extra funding for innovation meant better-skilled jobs, more sustainable manufacturing processes, and greater capacity for R&D.

“Food and drink manufacturers are well placed to help ensure every corner of the UK shares in economic success,” he said.

“The £23bn funding for productivity is the right commitment at the right time. Exports of branded food and drink are at their highest level on record and yet there is massive untapped opportunity for UK businesses. Doubling of export finance capacity to support trade is welcome.

“We will work with UK Export Finance (UKEF) to boost awareness among food and drink exporters of the products and services they provide. For food and drink producers, it’s the on-the-ground support, such as mentoring and increased UK presence at international trade shows, which can result in the greatest gains.”

This month, the FDF held an Exiting the EU event with former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.