Julian Hunt

Director of communications, Food & Drink Federation

The Coalition Government has hit the ground running, achieving more than most of us would have expected in its first few months in power. And the coalition partners have stood surprisingly firm as a number of tough decisions have been made from the increase in the standard rate of VAT to an agreement about the future role and remit of the Food Standards Agency.

For those of us involved in ensuring our industry’s voice is heard along the corridors of power, it has been a busy time and we expect the coalition to maintain the momentum behind its policy-making into the autumn.

For the food industry, the new political landscape offers many opportunities and just as many challenges but one of the themes we are pushing hard with the coalition is the economic importance of our sector. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is developing a new strategy for manufacturing, which it plans to publish in the autumn; it is vital that our sector helps to shape this ’Manufacturing Framework’, which will set out how the Government plans to dismantle the barriers to growth that are holding back key industries.

So, FDF has commissioned research from the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge to provide a timely reminder of the important financial, strategic and social contribution of the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector. The report highlights the importance of innovation, research and development to the food industry, and confirms we have continued to invest in our products, factories and people through the economic downturn. It is vital we work with the new Government to ensure our sector is well-placed to capitalise on these strong foundations as the UK emerges from recession.