Blog: FDF endures heat to celebrate centenary
Michelle Russell | 17 July 2013
The sweltering heat did little to put attendees of the Food and Drink Federation's centenary reception in Parliament off yesterday (16 July), as hundreds packed into the House's dining room.
Food and drinks industry executives, MPs and journalists came along to toast the federation's 100th birthday and, as the champagne and Pimms flowed, guests continued to pour in.
It was a sizeable turnout and followed the launch of a campaign by the FDF earlier in the day aimed at boosting demand for UK exports.
The Great Weeks campaign is designed to capitalise on the growing appetite for UK goods and services, particularly following the London 2012 Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
"Increasing the number of UK businesses who sell overseas is a fundamental building block of the government's plan for growth," Lord Green, Trade and Investment Minister, said.
"The Great Weeks series is designed to capitalise on this by using UKTI's global network to put companies in front of potential customers in fast growing markets. The campaign will provide a powerful platform for the retail, luxury, food, drink and creative industries to showcase their value in new markets and assist them to grow their businesses."
Food and drink is one of a handful of priority sectors for the Government and in December last year, just-food spoke with David Heath, UK minister for environment, food and rural affairs, who said the UK was increasing the level of support it offers food exporters through free trade agreements, practical advice and knowledge-sharing.
A drive to boost UK food exports was launched a month earlier, spearheaded by UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson. He told just-food the potential of the food industry was "absolutely enormous". In order to tap into opportunities for growth, the sector must look to expand overseas: exports will "absolutely" be a key driver moving the sector forward, Paterson insisted.
Speaking at yesterday's campaign launch, Melanie Leech, director general at the FDF said food and drink exports to Asia had increased by three-quarters in the last five years and more than doubled to China where UK products are popular with the young and wealthy.
"The Middle East has a growing appetite for British food and drink and over the same period we've seen growth of over 50% seen led by strong demand from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia where urban development has fuelled growth in their food retail and hospitality sectors.
"We know that our capacity to grow through exports is considerable. The Great weeks campaign alongside our refreshed Export Action Plan developed jointly by FDF, UKTI and Defra will help us to drive the required change and realise our full export potential."
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