Defra Secretary: UK food needs more medium-sized producers and more exporters
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss wants to get more of Britain’s small food and drink producers exporting and growing to become medium-sized companies.
Speaking to FFD at the launch of Defra’s Food Stars initiative, Truss said that the Conservative party sees food and farming as a “critical economic sector” and would continue to promote it, if it won the next General Election.
When asked if the Food Stars project – set up to aid the expansion of a select band of 50 small producers – might go against some companies’ artisan principles, Truss said that there was scope to help everybody.
“Some producers will always be small scale artisan producers. That’s what they want to do,” she said. “There are others who want to expand. I want to see medium sized enterprises as well and have more presence in overseas markets.
“One of the issues the UK has often had is not enough of our small and medium enterprises export and that’s a big difference between us and a country like Germany.”
Truss said that technology was making it easier for small businesses to find a market for their goods abroad, citing a meeting with Chinese online food retailers on her recent visit to the country in January.
She added that, if the Food Stars initiative proved successful, Defra would look at “future opportunities” to do something similar in the future.
Held on February 26 at Defra’s offices in Westminster, the Food Stars launch event saw some 50 firms (the majority of whom are Great Taste winners) in attendance to for a day of workshops and a lunchtime showcase of their products.
Among those speaking to the chosen businesses were former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King and Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO Dame Fiona Kendrick
“Today’s event is about is helping us sell more British food in Britain, understanding what the issues are with the supply chain,” Truss told FFD. “We’ve got some of the major supermarkets here. They’re looking at new entrepreneurs coming through so they can get those fantastic products on our shelves.”
Click here to read FFD’s story on the Food Stars event