Ambition needed from government and industry to achieve net zero in food and drink

10 June 2020

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and SLR have today published a report which sets out how the food and drink industry can achieve the ambitious target of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050 and the support it will require from government.


As the UK Government seeks to power the economic recovery through clean growth and investment in low carbon technologies, the needs of the UK's largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, must be at its heart.

The report, Decarbonisation of Heat Across the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector, looks at what industry, its partners and government, can do to support the crucial transition to carbon neutrality. Key recommendations include:

  • Industry should establish a food-and-drink industry taskforce to include appliance manufacturers to facilitate knowledge sharing across the sector on technology innovations and implementation.
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships to bring together key stakeholders to address local area planning challenges in electricity and gas networks
  • UK Government should implement a third phase of Climate Change Agreements post 2025 which build on previous successes and shift focus to carbon reductions
  • UK Government should establish a new collaborative approach with industry to design a financial support scheme for industrial decarbonisation

In June 2019, the Government put into legislation its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 80% to net zero by 2050. While the food and drink industry is committed to meeting that target, the Government has not updated the 2015 Food and Drink sector roadmap, outlining how a transition could be achieved for the sector. As the industry responsible for feeding the nation, providing good manufacturing jobs in every community, it is crucial it is at the heart of government thinking.

The report outlines that industry will only be able to reduce emissions from heat by 64% by 2050 when compared to 2012 without further interventions, thereby missing the net zero target. The FDF says that ensuring further collaboration between industry and government is vital to achieving these targets.

It also suggests more work will be needed to ensure stakeholders have a shared vision around the future use of biomass. An alignment of objectives on how to utilise limited sources such as food waste biomass, will be key to ensuring optimal green growth and deployment across the supply chain.

In 2007, the FDF launched its Five-fold Environmental Ambition which committed to make a significant contribution to improving the environment by targeting specific areas. The FDF and its member companies have led the way in reducing their environmental footprint, reducing CO2 emissions by 53% in manufacturing operations, compared to the 1990 baseline.

Emma Piercy, Head of Energy and Climate Change at FDF, said:
"As the UK's largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry is absolutely committed to a green recovery post Covid-19 and achieving the Government's net-zero carbon target by 2050. In producing this report, we have identified a clear pathway to net zero and the challenges we will need to overcome in order to meet that target.

"But we can't do it alone. Businesses will need clear direction and support to make that transition."

Julie Gartside, European Operations Manager for Advisory Services at SLR Consulting, said:
"There are reasons to be optimistic because deep decarbonisation of heat used by the food and drink sector is technically possible. However, the changes required to manufacturing processes and energy supply systems to achieve it are so significant that the sector cannot do this alone.

"Collaboration between the food and drink sector, Government, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders will be needed to realise the opportunity before us."

About FDF

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the UK food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the country. The UK food and drink industry accounts for 20% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover and employs over 430,000 people in the UK across 7,400 businesses. We are an incredibly diverse sector, speaking on behalf of global brands and thriving small businesses.

Notes for editors

1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit:
2. Statistics on the food and drink industry

Report: Decarbonisation of heat

10 June 2020

Launched in June 2020, this report outlines how carbon emissions from heat generation in food and drink Manufacturing can be reduced to Net Zero.

Read more

Decarbonisation of heat