Defra and the Department of International Trade (DIT) have announced a “Bounce Back Plan” for the agriculture, food and drink industries in order to support businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus.

The plan consists of a number of trade measures which are designed to accelerate the UK food and drink industry as it begins to recover from the impact of the virus.

The Government says it will provide ‘unprecedented help’ for SMEs and allow them to capitalise on trade agreements being negotiated by DIT with Japan, US, Australia and New Zealand.

The agriculture, food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry contributing £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018, supporting around 4 million jobs, according to Defra. In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7bn, up 4.9% from 2018.

“UK food and drink is an international success story, exporting more than £23 billion of quality products each year. The ‘bounce back’ plan will ensure that specialist support is available to those UK businesses which trade around the world and provides fantastic potential for those companies looking to export.”

The measures will also support producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork.

Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said: “Support on this scale from UK Government is extremely welcome at this uncertain time. The package of measures is testament to the close and long-running work between FDF, DIT and Defra to boost our exports performance. Our success in restarting and expanding exports will be absolutely vital in aiding the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.

“UK food and drink is an international success story, exporting more than £23 billion of quality products each year. The ‘bounce back’ plan will ensure that specialist support is available to those UK businesses which trade around the world and provides fantastic potential for those companies looking to export. With a footprint in every constituency, food and drink is uniquely placed to drive an exports-led recovery. In the longer term, it is important that Government and industry continue to work together to take advantage of export opportunities and address fragmentation in available support across the UK.”

AHDB’s international market development director, Dr Phil Hadley, said: “We welcome today’s announcement by Government to launch a new recovery package, which will provide immediate support to those businesses looking to grow their trade activity overseas. Coronavirus has had a big impact on the UK’s export activity and while we continue to ship our produce around the world, the challenges of the pandemic have been strongly felt in all sectors.

“Therefore, we are very encouraged to see this ‘bounce back’ plan, which will provide significant support to many of the UK businesses we assist in growing their overseas trade. We hope that many will benefit from new trade and investment opportunities, so that AHDB, in partnership with Government, can continue to put UK produce on the tables of more households around the world.”

The full range of measures consist of:

  • The launch of a GREAT DIT Food & Drink Exporting Masterclass, an e programme of webinars to be produced in conjunction with trade associations, UK regions, including Devolved Administrations, and DIT’s international network, all supported by DIT’s Export Specialists.
  • The launch of Food & Drink SME E-commerce Accelerator Pilot to leverage DIT’s E-exporting Programme to increase the level of international e-commerce support for food and drink SMEs, including agri-tech.
  • Promoting 50 Food and Drink Export Champions to stimulate aspiring exporters, while utilising International Trade Advisor specialist networks focused on agri-food.
  • Announcing the first Defra Agri-food Counsellor serving the UAE and wider Gulf Region, with the role focussing on supporting our food and drink sector and representing the interests of UK businesses already exporting to the area, as well as those looking to export for the first time.
  • Launch of a programme of physical and virtual events, using innovative, interactive software to connect buyers, promote the UK and reach international markets.
  • Leveraging Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign, which will extend into the UAE and the EU later this year, to provide impactful and targeted activity in priority export markets, such as USA, China and Japan.
  • Two Virtual Investor Roundtables chaired by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, with agri-food and drink, and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s investment strategy, the UK Agri-Tech International Strategy and the launch of Phase 2 of the High Potential Opportunity Programme.
  • Uplift of UK Export Finance’s “Exporters’ Edge” campaign to further outreach and engagement to identify and respond to the needs of the industry and raise awareness of how UKEF and Trade Finance can help the businesses win and fulfil export contracts.