From farms to final processing the food industry in the European Union has been shedding jobs at a faster rate than any other economic sector, a report from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has claimed.

Its analysis of EU job statistics showed that between 2000 and 2005 there was a net loss of 624,000 jobs, almost twice the 324,000 lost by a textile industry that has been hit hard by Asian competition. The EU agency’s figures show that these losses have been slowing a little, with total job losses to the EU food, beverage and tobacco sectors in 2005 being only 20,505.

Tellingly, there has been little off-shoring of jobs in the sector, rather food businesses downsize or go under – just 5% of these losses involved jobs transferred outside the EU.