Region aims for a taste of £500m export bid

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YORKSHIRE firms are among those seeking to benefit from a new drive to boost British food and drinks exports by £500m.

The Food and Drink Action Plan was launched in Germany on Saturday and has been designed to expand one of the UK’s most thriving sectors into lucrative overseas markets.

A British delgation to Anuga, the world’s leading food and drink trade fair in Cologne, includes representatives from UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) Yorkshire and the Humber and a raft of producers including Otley-based WharfeBank Brewery, Brigg-based Pipers Crisps, Grimsy-based Ramsden International and Moordale Foods, from Hull.

Food and drink is already the UK’s largest manufacturing sector with a turnover of over £90bn a year and up to 400,000 workers – 15 per cent of the overall manufacturing workforce.

But 90 per cent of small firms are not exporting and of those that do, most only export to Europe and do not take advantage of lucrative markets further afield.

Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was in Cologne to launch the scheme, while top chef Tom Aikens is unveiled the Government’s Food is Great marketing campaign in an effort to raise the profile of British food and drink producers around the world.

The campaign, being led by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), will showcase the UK food and drink industry to markets including Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macao, China, the United States and Europe.

Mr Paterson said the two initiatives will “give quality British produce an even higher profile, boost our economy and create jobs”.

“There are huge opportunities for British food companies to export all over the world and I’m determined to help our firms exploit them,” he added.

The food and drink action plan will particularly focus on the dairy industry, beer, cider, wine and spirits, as well as meat and seafood sectors.

Food and drink specialist Stephen Noblett, who is leading the regional delegation, said Yorkshire could be “justly proud” of what it offers and added: “Yorkshire-brewed beers were in full flow at an international ‘best of British’ reception to launch the plan, and it showed first hand that we have what it takes to make an impact on the global stage.”