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Export Plan to Cure Brexit Blues

Main Image 01 September 2017 | Adam Berry

British food and drink manufacturers are confident that exporting could be the cure to the Brexit blues.

Producers now feel that exporting could be the way to create jobs and strengthen the industry, according to a new survey.

Lloyds Bank survey results

The survey was carried out by Lloyds Bank, and found some interesting results from the food and drinks industry. They found that manufacturers believe they can create around 100,000 jobs within the next five years if exporting goes to plan.

69% of producers said that they were looking to target new international customers. This is up from 55% last year, showing that more and more people are starting to look outwards for their business. 28% of firms revealed that they were looking to export for the first time in the last five years.

Europe is the biggest export target, as it has been traditionally, and the looming threat of Brexit does not appear to have changed that. 43% of respondents are looking there for sales, while 39% are looking for markets in the wider global area. The most popular choices include Asia, Australia, New Zealand, North America and the Middle East.

This plan could also create more international jobs for those who are able to speak other languages and can liaise more easily with suppliers. It looks as though the food and drink industry is now eyeing targets further afield than before, rising to the challenge of the changing relationship between Europe and Britain.

More confidence in British market

The survey will only add to a recent surge of confidence in the British market and the manufacturers that fuel it. Data from the trade body EFF also showed a 20-year high in the percentage of factories which are reporting both an increased output and a rise in orders. This means that companies are seeing more demand for British-made products.

Elena Paitra is the managing director for food, beverages and tobacco at Lloyds. She said: “Companies are moving on from Brexit and re-focusing efforts on achieving growth and increasing confidence. Buoyed by the depressed pound, many more firms are targeting growth overseas, with almost as many firms looking beyond the EU as within it."

Food and drink is the biggest manufacturing sub-sector in the UK, with more than 400,000 people already in food jobs. Almost half of the firms in the survey confirmed that they will be planning to employ more staff in the next five years. Just 24% predicted the same thing in the survey last year, so confidence has definitely surged within the industry. According to Lloyds, this could lead to the creation of around 95,000 new jobs over the five-year period. Firms are suggesting a growth of 21% in turnover during that same period.

Not everyone is completely assured, however, with some industry leaders calling for more information from the government about the deal they will make when leaving the EU. 48% of firms were concerned about rising labour costs, and political uncertainty along with regulatory issues were also cause for worry.

Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, commented: “We must extract assurances from the Government about the key aspects of workforce, supply chain, and regulation for our industry to be able to plan with confidence for the future.”

One thing is clear, and that is that the food and drink industry is not willing to be bullied into submission. No matter what uncertainty or costs the future may hold, there is a strong determination to remain focused and to look at alternative methods for profit.

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