Statistics at a Glance

These statistics have been compiled from the latest industry data on food and drink manufacturing and the most recent Office of National Statistics Annual Business Survey.

  • The food and drink manufacturing industry is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with a turnover of £95.4bn and Gross Value Added (GVA) of £25.7bn [1], accounting for 18.3% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover.
  • The food and non-alcoholic drink sectors represented by FDF turnover £81.8bn and generate GVA of £21.5bn, accounting for 15.7% of the total manufacturing sector by turnover.
  • The industry employs more than 400,000 workers. This represents nearly 17% of the overall manufacturing workforce in the UK [2].
  • Our sector is an important trading partner with Europe: exporting almost £19.5bn of food and drink products a year, with just over £12.8bn made up of food and non-alcoholic drink exports, 75% of which goes to the EU.
  • The industry is a key partner for British farmers: buying two thirds of all the UK's agricultural produce. All this economic activity is carried out by 6,705 food and soft drink enterprises (7,835 including alcohol) – many of which are small companies employing less than 10 people.
  • Our sector invests £425m in to R&D;[3] which translated to over 16,000 new products in 2013[4]
  • Our industry has increased the productivity of its labour force over the last 10 years by 12% [5] leaving food and drink workers in the UK nearly 50% more productive than the EU average [6].

Food and drink manufacturing has become a safe and rewarding environment to work in:

  • Businesses in our sector have reduced their rate of injuries by over 50% over the last 20 years, one of the biggest reductions of any business sector in the UK[7].
  • An FDF survey conducted in 2010 indicated that the average tenure for employees was just under 9 years [8] and more recent data shows that average earnings remain higher than the national average [9].


  1. Information taken from latest ONS Annual Business Survey (provisional 2013).
  2. From ONS Annual Business Survey (provisional 2013)
  3. Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD)
  4. Innova Market Insights 2014
  5. Defra Food Pocket Book 2013 (Total Factor Productivity)
  6. From Eurostat SBS statistics (GVA per employee)
  7. HSE accident and injury statistics
  8. Survey conducted for IfM Value of Food & Drink Manufacturing to the UK
  9. From the ONS Average Weekly Earnings data (September 2013)

Last reviewed: 11 Dec 2014