The food and drink manufacturing sector has a presence in every UK nation and region. Our 7,400 businesses, and 430,000 employees can be found in nearly every constituency across the country, making the sector a truly diverse one.

To highlight the geographical spread of the industry, the FDF produces regional analysis of key economic indicators including: the sector’s economic contribution in each region, how many people we employ, average wages and trade statistics.

FDF supports its members by collating relevant data on the food and drink industry in an accessible form. This work allows us to reinforce the economic impact that food and drink manufacturing has nationwide, and provide an evidence base for policy recommendations.

Food and Drink Manufacturing across the UK

View Regional Map of Statistics infographic (pdf).

Food and drink manufacturers directly employ over 430,000 people across every region and nation of the UK. Employment in manufacturing has grown by 19% over the last decade.

The Welsh food and drink industry exported over £0.5bn last year. The nation employs 23,750 people within food and drink manufacturing, and is home to almost 5% of the industry’s businesses.

The Scottish food and drink industry employs 46,000 people and generates over £4bn of added value annually. Scotland made up over 25% of UK food and drink exports, at a value of £5.9bn last year.

Updates & milestones

Food and drink manufacturing across the UK

FDF published its latest regional map highlighting the industry’s contribution across the country.

Scotland contributed the most to our sector’s exports, making up over a quarter of overall UK food and drink exports, at £5.9bn in 2019 and manufacturing some of our top exports including whisky and salmon. The East Midlands employs the highest number of people in the industry, employing 61,000, whilst the Welsh food and drink industry exported £0.8bn last year and hosts 5% of the industry’s businesses. London employs half the number of people who work in the industry in the East Midlands, but is home to more than double the businesses, making it the region with the highest number of food and drink businesses (14.9% of total share). Northern Ireland, a key nation for strategic access to the Irish market, exported £1.9bn last year, which accounted for over 8% of overall UK food and drink exports, and employed almost 21,000 people.

Q3 2020 Business Confidence

The FDF’s newly-released Q3 2020 Business Confidence report shows that net business confidence among food and drink manufacturers bounced back in Q3 reaching 19.1% after a record low in Q2 2020.

Over a third of members experienced an increase in output, cash flow and domestic retail sales in Q3, although businesses continued to experience increased costs and reduced margins.

Overall, businesses are relatively pessimistic about UK economic conditions in 2021. Some of the key concerns for next year include the failure to secure a free trade agreement with the EU and consequent border/custom issues, uncertainty around future UK import tariffs and a surge in exchange rate volatility.

On the other hand, members see an increase in domestic demand, investment in new product launches and increased certainty over the future EU relationship as key opportunities for 2021.

The FDF produces Business Confidence reports on a quarterly basis which summarise member sentiment, key impacts on the industry, as well as key opportunities and challenges for the sector.

Food and drink manufacturing across the UK: regional statistics

Update

The FDF published its latest regional map highlighting the industry’s contribution across the country.


Scotland contributed the most to our sector’s exports, making up over a quarter of overall UK food and drink exports, at £5.9bn in 2019 and manufacturing some of our top exports whisky and salmon. The East Midlands employs the highest number of people in the industry, employing 61,000, whilst the Welsh food and drink industry exported £0.8bn last year and hosts 5% of the industry’s businesses. London employs half of the number of people who work in the industry in the East Midlands, but is home to more than double the businesses, making it the region with the highest number of food and drink businesses (xxx). Northern Ireland, a key nation for strategic access to the Irish market, exported £1.9bn last year, which accounted for over 8% of overall UK food and drink exports, and employed almost 21,000 people.