The food and drink manufacturing and processing industry (FDMP) is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing around 400,000 workers. The food processing industry has performed better than the wider manufacturing sector. Growth is forecast at between 3-4% in the short to medium term, and the sector is expected to reach an approximate value of £113.1bn in 2018-19.
Over 8,000 companies are active in the FDMP sector across the UK, with over 85% of enterprises qualifying as small (fewer than 50 employees). However, the top 5 UK food companies account for over £30bn in terms of turnover, with the top 20 food producers operating over 300 manufacturing and distribution sites across the UK.
There are over 9,500 manufacturing sites and factories in the UK FDMP sector, with the bakery, meat processing and dairy industry operating the largest number of processing sites. FDMP activity varies across the UK, with Scotland, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber having the highest concentration of food processing activity. Over the last couple of years, the FDMP sector has seen increased capital investment levels, reflecting the growing optimism in the wider economy.
The industry is characterised by an ageing stock of manufacturing facilities and equipment and new projects are mainly focused on upgrading existing assets to achieve greater efficiencies, leading to higher outputs and lower costs. Upgrading and fit-out work therefore accounts for around 80% of total output in the sector. Going forward construction output in the food processing sector is likely to remain relatively buoyant, mainly driven by RMI activity. As a result, we are forecasting growth rates in construction output of between 3-5% over the next few years to reach a total of around £475m by 2019.