Coronavirus: Bounceback plan announced for farming

A bounceback plan of trade measures for the agriculture, food and drink industry has been announced to help support businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures have been created by Defra and the Department for International Trade (DIT), and are designed to help increase overseas trade with countries including Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Advice and expertise from the DIT, trade associations and businesses will be available for producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain.

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These include an overseas virtual buyer trial, a series of exporting masterclass webinars and more e-commerce support for food and drink businesses, to help them sell more of their produce overseas.

It is part of a drive to use interactive technology to connect buyers and promote the UK. A “smart distance-selling process” is also being developed, which will help businesses send food and drink samples to potential buyers.

£23.7bn of exports

The agriculture, food and drink sector is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry and plays a vital role in the food supply chain, which contributed £121bn to the UK economy in 2018 – supporting about four million jobs.

In 2019, UK food, feed and drink exports were worth £23.7bn – up 4.9% from 2018.

The plan will also see the introduction of Defra’s first agri-food counsellor serving the Gulf. They will support the UK’s food and drink industry and represent the interests of UK businesses already exporting, or planning to export, to the region.

Dr Phil Hadley, AHDB international market development director, said the government’s measures would provide significant support for many of the UK businesses the levy board works with to boost their trade abroad.

“Coronavirus has had a big effect on the UK’s export activity and while we continue to ship our produce around the world, the challenges of the pandemic have been strongly felt in all sectors.

“We hope that many will benefit from new trade and investment opportunities, so the AHDB, in partnership with government, can continue to put UK produce on the tables of more households around the world.”

Graham Stuart, minister for export in the DIT, said: “The package of measures we have announced today will support bounceback in exports, and help our world-class producers and manufacturers increase trade with the rest of the world.

“It will also get the industry ready to capitalise on the opportunities that are being opened up by the series of free-trade agreements my department is negotiating around the world.”

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