News article

4 July 2016

Attracting talent into food industry "Never more urgent" – Dame Fiona Kendrick

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As industry faces an unprecedented set of challenges, senior leaders in food and
drink have announced the launch of a major project designed to help the sector
boost productivity.

The food and drink sector has a strong record on productivity growth,
outstripping overall UK productivity and many global competitors.

But food and drink manufacturing is facing skills gaps in key technical and
scientific areas, and an ageing workforce, with 130,000 new employees needed by

Food and drink business leaders have therefore come together to take steps to
ensure that productivity gains are sustained and they can recruit and retain
next generation of food engineers, scientists and leaders. The Food and Drink
Federation (FDF) and National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, working
apetito, Butt Foods, Nestlé, Mars, Mondeléz International and
Premier Foods,
have identified essential steps to maintaining the talent pipeline.

The key findings and business actions under the project, which forms part of Sir
Charlie Mayfield’s Productivity Review, have been captured in a new report –
‘Unlocking Talent – The Key to Driving Food and Drink Productivity’.

Dame Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestlé UK and FDF President, led the business
Speaking ahead of the launch of the report at FDF’s Summer Parliamentary
Reception, Fiona said:

“As the largest sector of UK manufacturing, food and drink has an
contribution to make to boosting the productivity of the economy. Since 2009,
productivity performance in food and drink has increased by 11%. We’ve got a
productivity story to tell, but we also know we have more to do. Bringing the
right people with the right skills in to our businesses is central – the
facing food and drink is not new, but the need to close it has never been more

“Our priorities are to increase the quantity and quality of our
improve our engagement with schools and our collaboration with Higher and
Further Education and showcase the exciting career opportunities on

FDF Director General Ian Wright CBE said:

“While UK industry now faces a period of unprecedented uncertainty, it
that a large proportion of our talented and highly skilled workforce is moving
inexorably towards retirement. This creates a skills gap in key areas. That
a big challenge for the industry and a massive opportunity for new entrants to
the labour market seeking highly skilled, well-paid careers in a dynamic

“Food and drink manufacturers need more of the right skills across a range
areas to continue to drive future innovation to support our UK competitive

John Stevenson MP, Chair of the APPG for Food & Drink Manufacturing, said:

“The food and drink manufacturing sector is in a prime position to help
government boost productivity and grow exports. Through initiatives such as the
supported MEng and BEng Food Engineering degrees at Sheffield Hallam University
and ambition to increase apprenticeship numbers by a third, food and drink
manufacturers are investing in their future workforce. Now is the time to
activity. I congratulate FDF and its members for its ambitious call for
business-led action and commitment to greater partnership with Government and
partners on this priority agenda.”

More information

Contact the FDF press office via [email protected] or via 0207 420 7131/20/18

  1. Food and drink manufacturing productivity grew by 11% over the last five years
    compared to 0.5% for the rest of the economy.
  2. FDF’s Unlocking Talent – The Key to driving food and drink productivity is available now
  3. Photos from FDF’s Summer Parliamentary Reception will be available on our Flickr
    site tomorrow morning (5 July 2016)
  4. In December 2015, The Food and Drink Federation announced their Apprenticeships
    Pledge to increase apprentices to 3% of the workforce in December 2015.

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