Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Food and Drink Federation

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) represents the food and drink manufacturing industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with an annual turnover of over £72.3 billion.


1. Food and drink manufacturers are very aware of the natural resources vital to the production of the agricultural raw materials on which we depend and of the impact which our operations have on the ecosystems involved. That is why we established the FDF Five-fold Environmental Ambition in 2007 to promote efficiency of resource use in our member companies in the key areas of carbon, water, packaging, waste and transport—and why we broadened that ambition last year to extend our influence across the supply chain and begin addressing wider issues such as sustainable sourcing and the loss of biodiversity.

Elements in the White Paper which we Support

2. We accordingly welcome the White Paper’s emphasis on the value of nature and the relevance of healthy ecosystems to the green growth on which our future prosperity and food security ultimately depend. We strongly support the need to restore and protect natural capital, here and elsewhere in the world, and see the forthcoming reforms of the EU’s Common Agricultural (and Fisheries) Policies as an excellent opportunity to further this process. We also agree with the need to remedy market failure in terms of addressing such impacts and see the accompanying National Ecosystem Assessment as an important step in this direction. But for UK food businesses to remain internationally competitive—and avoid simply displacing adverse effects by manufacturing relocating to other countries—we need to ensure that the external costs of food production are properly reflected in all international markets.

Omissions which Defra should Rectify

3. In that context, it is disappointing that there is not more emphasis on the need for better life-cycle assessment across supply chains and for publicly-funded research to support this. The development of environmental product standards inevitably involves trade-offs between different impacts and has to be based on the best available evidence to avoid unintended consequences, particularly in the ways such information is communicated to consumers. There is also a need for a more coherent approach between issues of energy, water and food security, which are closely inter-linked and require fully joined-up policy making, not only in the UK but also at international level. The concept of (English) leadership needs to be balanced both with the need for our own food and farming sector to remain competitive and also with the need to maximise comparative advantage at a global level.

Sections which could be Improved

4. We welcome the White Paper’s explicit commitment to increasing food production, and acknowledgement of the potential tensions with the parallel goal of environmental improvement. But we are disappointed that action is confined to a commitment to create a discussion forum over the next 12 months. Meeting the challenge of the Foresight Report to produce more, from less and with less impact and for transformational change in global food systems requires a clear strategic framework shared at EU and international level. We would like to see Defra take early and clear leadership here working in partnership with the food chain and other stakeholders.

Annex 1


The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) represents the food and drink manufacturing industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing around 400,000 people. The industry has an annual turnover of over £72.3 billion accounting for 15% of the total manufacturing sector. Exports amount to almost £11 billion of which 77% goes to EU members. The Industry buys two-thirds of all UK’s agricultural produce.

The following Associations are members of the Food and Drink Federation:


Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers


Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers


British Coffee Association


British Oats and Barley Millers Association


British Starch Industry Association


Cereal Ingredient Manufacturers’ Association


European Malt Product Manufacturers’ Association


Food Association


Federation of Bakers


Food Processors’ Association


General Products Association


Margarine and Spreads Association


Sugar Bureau


Salt Manufacturers’ Association


Snack, Nut and Crisp Manufacturers’ Association


Soya Protein Association


Seasoning and Spice Association


UK Association of Manufacturers of Bakers’ Yeast


UK Herbal Infusions Association


UK Tea Council

Within FDF there are the following sectoral organisations:


Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Group


Frozen Food Group


Meat Group


Organic Food and Drink Manufacturers’ Group


Seafood Group


Vegetarian and Meat Free Industry Group


Yoghurt and Chilled Dessert Group

21 June 2011

Prepared 16th July 2012