A Sector With Its Own Solutions
The food and drink sector employs 380,000 people in the UK. It is at the core of adding value in the UK food chain, where its innovative new products and marketing expertise drive output in the important agriculture and retail sectors. Nestlé UK is proud to be part of this success story.
Productivity performance of food and drink since 2009 is impressive - an 11% increase in five years compares with a 0.6% increase in the economy as a whole. Its sheer scale and geographical spread mean that further gains are likely to contribute to the overall productivity of the UK economy.
External factors have been part of this. Since the financial crisis, rising raw material costs, pressure in the retail sector and competition for the UK’s limited pool of engineering talent have made improving productivity even more vital for businesses to gain competitive advantage. The workforce has embraced new working practices and the high expectations of quality and continuous skills development. The tradeable nature of much of what the UK food and drink sector produces has been an important incentive to keep raising standards and has encouraged managers across the sector to understand better how to create efficiencies and recognise the interdependence between people and technology.
The sector has also set an important example in taking responsibility for its own talent pipeline. The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering in Sheffield is an example of industry and academia working in collaboration with government to bridge the research gap and develop the next generation of engineers.
Behind these headline numbers are many individual success stories of UK and multinational companies investing to increase capacity in the UK – including for export markets – to reformulate popular brands to reduce salt, sugar and fat content, and to reduce food waste. Nestlé itself has been a significant investor in the UK since the 1860s, introducing new technology to its operations for regular transformational improvements in productivity, alongside ongoing incremental improvements driven by its own workforce. These are backed by training and modern management practices focused on the long term.