Overseas-owned companies are making up a substantial share of the UK food sector, accounting for nearly half (47%) of the turnover of the UK’s leading food companies.

Research by the commercial law firm EMW shows this is a rise from 44% last year.

Overseas owned companies now represent £14.9bn of the £31.5bn turnover of the UK’s Top 30 food companies

EMW says that overseas companies often view UK food businesses as undervalued compared to the valuations that they can achieve on the stock market.

Along with the current weak value of sterling, these factors have made UK food companies an attractive target for overseas companies looking to enter the UK’s food market.

Sebastian Calnan, head of EMW’s Food Group, comments: “Overseas-owned companies are now responsible for a very major and growing percentage portion of the UK food sector’s turnover.

“UK food companies are renowned for their internationally recognisable brands – it is no surprise that overseas companies have a strong interest in them.”

It is known that six of the UK’s Top 30 “Big Food” companies have US owners such as Kellogg, Mars and Mondelez.

Perhaps what is said to be the most controversial deal in the last few years was the purchase of Cadbury by US food giant Kraft for £11.7bn in 2010.

Calnan concludes: “We expect that, barring a shock failure in the Brexit negotiations, the shift towards overseas ownership will continue.”