The Government has reiterated its commitment to establishing “a new partnership” between itself and the food chain by launching a new Food and Drink Sector Council, which will be tasked with building on emerging proposals for a sector deal in food and drink manufacturing.

Announced as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper, the Food and Drink Sector Council is aimed at leading the work to “secure the UK’s position as a global leader in sustainable, affordable, safe and high-quality food and drink”.

Among the issues it will undertake is support to transform exports and capitalise on its “unique innovation opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing”.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has welcomed the announcement, highlighting that the creation of the sector council “recognises the importance of the many sub-sectors that make up the nation’s £112 billion ‘farm to fork’ food chain and employ almost four million people”.

FDF has also expressed its hope that the sector council “will enable industry growth, with exports, innovation and skills seen as priority areas for both food and drink manufacturing and the other sectors which make up the food chain.

Ian Wright CBE, FDF director general, said: “This is great news. We have been calling for a Food and Drink Sector Council for some time and this is recognition from Government of the central importance of the food and drink supply chain to the economy.

“The creation of the Council acknowledges the importance of the sector to both national security and economic growth, and will allow us to unlock our very significant productivity potential and secure our position as a global leader in safe, sustainable, and high-quality food and drink.”

Last week the Prime Minister announced an ambition to increase the level of investment in research and development (R&D), rising from 1.7% to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

According to the Government, this could mean around £80 billion of additional investment in advanced technology in the next decade, helping to transform whole sectors, create new industries, and support innovation across the country.