The UK food and drink industry has welcomed a new plan, launched by Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice on Friday, that could help hundreds of companies secure sales in lucrative emerging markets.
The Exports Action Plan, overseen by a Forum co-chaired by Jim Paice and FDF Deputy President and Chief Executive of Nestlé UK Paul Grimwood, aims to cut through many of the barriers currently faced by potential exporters and help towards the drive for industry growth of 20% by 2020.
Food and drink exports were valued at £10.8 billion in 2010 but are expected to reach almost £12 billion when official 2011 figures are released in March.
The plan identifies a number of actions to boost exports including removing trade barriers; encouraging and putting in place measures to help SMEs export; shifting the focus to emerging economies and highlighting exporting as the key route to growth.
Welcoming the launch of the plan, FDF Director General Melanie Leech said: "Food and drink is one of the UK's key growth sectors and our shared ambition with Government is to grow the sector by 20% by 2020 across both the domestic market and exports.
"The core of food and drink manufacturing is SMEs and it can be difficult for these companies to access the help and support that they need to take that first step to export. Therefore the opportunity to work in partnership with Defra and UKTI has been embraced by industry.
"This plan contains many common-sense actions that can be taken forward in a relatively short timescale to deliver results as well as those initiatives that are more complex and longer term. We will be reviewing our progress in one year's time and I hope that the Exports Action Plan will make a significant contribution to yet another year of record exports and to our overall vision for industry growth."