Press release

Launch of week to inspire small food and drink businesses to export

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A week dedicated to inspiring small food and drink businesses to grow an international market for their products has launched today

A week dedicated to inspiring and supporting food and drink small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to grow an international market for their products has launched today.

International trade website Open to Export is collaborating with government and industry bodies to launch the week which will also help prepare UK businesses ahead of Anuga, the world’s largest trade fair for the industry.

Partners in the initiative include the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), the Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

The focal point of the week will be 2 webinars. The first is on Tuesday 24 September featuring successful British exporters Hawkshead Relish and Typhoo Tea candidly sharing their experiences of international growth, and providing advice to other businesses. The second is on Thursday 26 September featuring Defra, UKTI and the online trading platform itradein, offering an overview of the support landscape with a focus on documentation and routes to market.

Lord Green, Trade and Investment Minister said:

The UK’s food and drink sector is one of the most sophisticated and dynamic in the world, making this an ideal investment location for overseas companies.

This collaboration is a great example of what Open to Export was set up to achieve – bringing together experts from across government and the private sector to find innovative ways to engage with the UK’s future exporters and inspire and support SMEs to grow their business abroad.

The webinars will be supported by a range of new content on Open to Export including unseen case studies, exporting guides, an events calendar and links to organisations which can help.

The initiative will be complemented later in the year by the launch of UK Trade & Investment’s Food is GREAT campaign and the Food and Drink International Action Plan – the government’s long-term export strategy for boosting the growth of the sector.

Companies wishing to join the webinars and access the exclusive featured content can do so free of charge by visiting: ‘Food or drink business looking to grow

David Heath, Minister of State for Agriculture & Food said:

I think this sort of government-industry collaboration is exactly what we need to help drive export growth. I’m am very grateful to all involved and I would certainly recommend that companies sign up.

Melanie Leech, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation said:

We are proud to contribute to this fantastic joint-initiative aimed at helping SMEs drive forward their exports. Our research shows that a proactive approach to exports brings high growth for SMEs. Exporting can go on to account for as much as one fifth of their turnover. We are strong supporters of SMEs in the UK food and drink manufacturing sector and hope that they will take advantage of this free expertise on offer to help them realise their untapped growth potential.

Notes to editors:

  1. Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector with a turnover of over £90 billion. However, there is huge untapped potential for export amongst SMEs with only 10% currently exporting and primarily only with close European neighbours.

  2. In the current economic climate exports can offer significant growth potential. In the last 2 years, export sales grew by 15%, compared to total food and drink sales growth of only 3%. FDF data shows that for businesses that do proactively expand into new markets, exports account for at least 20% of turnover, compared to an average of only 5% or less for those that exported reactively.

  3. With the strength of the British brand riding high after the Olympics, there has never been a better time to export British food products. The UK’s reputation in producing quality, innovative, safe products is known across the globe and as a consequence, UK food and drink exports have grown by 61% over the last 5 years.

  4. Open to Export is a free online community that provides information and advice from across the private sector and government agencies to help SMEs successfully enter international markets.

  5. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or visit the online newsroom at

  6. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is the government department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues with the priorities to grow the rural economy, improve the environment and safeguard animal and plant health.

  7. The Food & Drink Federation (FDF) is the largest trade association representing food and drink manufacturers in the UK. We work in partnership with key players in the food chain to ensure that our food is safe and that consumers can have trust in it. We also help members to maximise their competitiveness and work closely with Defra, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and the Food & Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) under an Agrifood Export Action plan. This Plan aims to boost UK food and drink exports by making it easier for businesses to export, promote its benefits and create tangible export opportunities

  8. In the 2012 Autumn Statement, UKTI was awarded an additional £70 million for each of 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015, enabling the recruitment of more international trade advisers around the country, expansion of existing services including the Trade Access Programme (TAP) and the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), and support to expand the range of assistance available to UK companies through overseas British chambers of commerce.

  9. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.