Agriculture, Food and Drink
The Marches is a rural area, with around 80 per cent of its land area dedicated to agricultural production. More than 24,000 people are employed in the sector and, on average, it is calculated for every one person directly employed in agriculture an additional six jobs are created. The impact on the Marches is significant, ensuring the agri-food sector is well supported and our land-based industries are supporting the food chain with strengths in the areas of dairy, cereal production and poultry.
Food and drink is a key driver of the Marches economy, mirroring the national economic landscape. Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing more than half a million people and generating a turnover of around £80 million a year. The breadth of delicious food and drink being produced in our region is a significant asset for the Marches tourism industry via the presence of high quality restaurants, farm shops and unique retail outlets such as the Ludlow Food Centre and Battlefield 1403 in Shrewsbury, and events including regular farmers’ markets as well as internationally renowned festivals such as the Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, the Herefordshire Food Festival and the Flavours Awards campaign in Herefordshire.
The Marches is home to the UK branch of the global dairy phenomenon Müller Dairy and other large employers such as Uniq, Anglo Beef Processors and Palethorpes ( Pork Farms) in addition to a plethora of smaller producers, many of which are beginning to make a name for themselves not just in the Marches but further afield.
Within the Marches, there are three key support functions that are pivotal to the region’s food and drink industry: