The British food and drink industry is at “tipping point” and producers cannot rely on the fact that products are British to gain a competitive advantage.

That was the clear message from Promar‘s John Giles to delegates at a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing conference in London.

“[UK producers] are good, but we have to be careful not to get blinkered into assuming we’re the best, especially when you consider we’re such a small and expensive producer on the global stage. For example, UK cereals and red meat only account for about 1% of world production.

“Either we’ve got to be big and aggressive, or small and niche. Being stuck in the middle will be very difficult.

British producers are innovative and have developed a wide range of customers, but products still need a stronger “British” brand identity, he said.

Openfield chairman Richard Beldam shared a similar view, adding that there was still too much confrontation between farmers, processors, retailers and consumers.

“All parties need to recognise that they need each other for success. I think we’re at a watershed in agriculture. The dynamics have got to change from growing a commodity in open access supply chains, to integrated closed-loop chains where the processor knows exactly what they’re getting.”