Food & drink sector challenges

July 31, 2015
automated production line in modern dairy factory **Note, purposely blurry

Red tape, price pressures and issues around staffing are some of the key sticking points that impact on the potential growth of the region’s food and drink businesses, according to research carried out by the Marches LEP.

The research, which was carried out in order to support applications to the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme, was aimed at identifying the strategic needs and priorities of the sector and in doing so, help determine where future funding should be focused in order to create the greatest benefit.
SME sized businesses including food and drink manufacturers and primary food producers were invited to take part in the research with a number of key issues being identified on multiple occasions. Notably, legislation and regulatory issues were regularly cited, as were issues around pricing, especially those exacerbated by margin-conscious supermarkets, whilst the recruitment and retention of trained staff was also regularly seen as a challenge to those in the sector.
In fact, 72% of those citing these issues went as far as to claim they were definite barriers to growing or diversifying their businesses, along with issues around funding and the high level of investment often required to realise growth.
Commenting on the research findings, Gill Hamer, Director of the Marches LEP, said: “The food and drink sector is of vital importance to the Marches, contributing at least £1.9 billion to the region’s economy (2011) and employing at least 9,000 people. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that we are clear on where future funding should be focused.
“Knowing the areas that those in the agri food and drink sectors would welcome further grant funding in is invaluable as we seek to support them to realise their true potential whilst both maintaining and growing their invaluable contribution, not just within the region, but also nationwide.”
Any business operating within the agri food and drink sectors throughout Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin who would like to comment on, or add to, the research findings and in doing so help shape future funding opportunities should contact Lisa Ashby at Shropshire Council on

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