Government launches 'bounce back' plan for agriculture, food and drink industry

NFU Yearbook 2019 to 2020

Defra and the Department for International Trade (DIT) have launched a ‘bounce back’ plan for agriculture, food and drink industry to help support businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus. They also mention the need to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to capitalise on trade agreements being currently negotiated by DIT with Japan, US, Australia and New Zealand.

NFU EU exit and international trade adviser Lucia Zitti said:

“The introduction of the ‘bounce-back’ plan for agriculture is encouraging and recognises the support needed for the sector to mitigate the significant impacts the coronavirus has had. Farmers are keen to trade on the global market and have a fantastic product that is in demand across the world.

“Proper promotion of the British brand is essential and it’s good to see that the government is committing additional investment into this area. In particular, the NFU has been calling for an expansion of the agri-food counsellors network so we’re pleased to see this beginning to take shape.”

Lucia Zitti

Pictured above: NFU EU exit and international trade adviser Lucia Zitti

The plan comprises of eight points:

  1. Launch of a GREAT DIT food and drink exporting masterclass, a bespoke programme of webinars to be produced in conjunction with trade associations, UK regions, including devolved administrations, and DIT’s international network, all supported by DIT’s export specialists.
  2. Launch of food and drink SME e-commerce accelerator pilot to leverage DIT’s e-exporting programme to increase the level of international e-commerce support for food and drink SMEs, including agri-tech. This will include the offer of one-to-one e-commerce export clinics with the programme’s e-commerce specialists and regional advisers, a new series of industry webinars and podcasts focussed on highlighting the opportunities available to export through e-marketplaces internationally, as well as virtual workshops on internationalising their websites for those companies selling direct to consumers in various markets around the world.
  3. Promote 50 food and drink export champions to stimulate aspiring exporters, while utilising international trade adviser specialist networks focused on agri-food.
  4. Announce the first Defra agri-food counsellor serving the UAE and wider Gulf region, with the role focussing on supporting our food and drink sector and representing the interests of UK businesses already exporting to the area, as well as those looking to export for the first time. The new Defra-funded regional agri-food counsellor will be based in Dubai and will work alongside DIT’s existing sector leads in the UAE. She will also support food and drink promotion activity at the UK pavilion at World Expo in 2021, identifying opportunities for new markets and further developing existing export relationships.
  5. Launch of a programme of physical and virtual events, using innovative, interactive software to connect buyers, promote the UK and reach international markets. This will include: an overseas virtual buyer trial working directly with chosen US buyers through a virtual delivery programme; and developing a UK ‘Smart Distance Selling Process’, which includes the dispatch of food and drink samples to buyers.
  6. Leveraging Defra’s Food is GREAT campaign, which will extend into the UAE and the EU later this year, to provide impactful and targeted activity in priority export markets, such as USA, China and Japan. This also will be complemented by new agri-food creative imagery within DIT’s GREAT Ready to Trade campaign when this resumes in the summer, under the Food is GREAT and Invest in GREAT pillars.
  7. Two virtual investor roundtables chaired by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment, with agri-food and drink, and agri-tech companies to inform the development of the UK’s investment strategy, the UK Agri-Tech International Strategy and the launch of phase 2 of the high potential opportunity programme.
  8. Uplift of UK export finance’s “Exporters’ Edge” campaign to further outreach and engagement to identify and respond to the needs of the industry and raise awareness of how UKEF and Trade Finance can help the businesses win and fulfil export contracts. UKEF is also accelerating the development of its products to allow a wider range of UK exporters to access its support. Its enhanced offer will provide easier access to working capital for UK exporters by offering financing that is not tied to specific export contracts but instead supports general business activities.

Read more about the 'bounce back' plan here on gov.uk.

There’s a recognition that “the UK agriculture, food and drink industry has been significantly impacted by Coronavirus and the government is committed to supporting this most important of industries get back into international markets and start growing market share once again.”

The plan has been welcomed by a number of actors in the agri-food supply chain, including the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The NFU has been specifically calling for the expansion of the network of agri-food counsellors around the world and more generally for an increase in the level of investments in commercial diplomacy and promotion. Therefore, points three, four and six are particularly welcome from our perspective.

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