The government has launched a national campaign to attract more women into the food and drink industry.

Backed by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the ‘Your Life’ campaign encourages girls to consider participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to lead to STEM careers.

Melanie Leech, director general at FDF, said: “I am delighted that food and drink will be contributing to the national aspirations to double the number of women studying engineering and technology degrees at undergraduate level by 2030 and boost the number of women pursuing careers in engineering and technology.”

According to the FDF, the food and drink sector employs up to 400,000 people. Despite steady industry growth, an ageing workforce means that, between 2010 and 2020, food and drink businesses will need to recruit 170,300 individuals.

Additionally, 20% of food and drink businesses reported skills gaps, particularly in science and engineering roles, and women being under-represented in the sector. As a result, the FDF said there was a clear need to attract highly skilled, talented women to meet future demand.

Elizabeth Truss, education minister, added: “Too many teenagers, especially girls, don’t realise that maths and physics get you everywhere. That is why I’m so pleased to see some of the UK’s top businesses and organisations showing their commitment by signing the ‘Your Life’ call to action and committing to recruit more science and maths students.

“Together we can ensure young people have the skills they need to succeed in life and help the UK compete on a global scale.”