British food and drink sector at ‘tipping point’

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.”

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