Food and drink sector strengths place Midlands at the forefront of responding to key drivers for growth in the industry

Date posted: November 17, 2022
Screenshot 2022-11-17 at 13.57.58

A recent Midlands Engine report pulls together headline stats, employment figures and upcoming opportunities in one of the region’s major industries.

Gathering the data together in this at-a-glance guide shows that, despite the challenges presented by the economic upheaval of the past few years, the breadth, diversity and scale of the agri-food supply chain in the Midlands Engine region puts it in a leading position nationally to respond to most of the current and predicted trends.

As the UK’s largest logistics and distribution centre for food and drink supply chains, the Midlands can demonstrate expertise in every part of the process from production, through processing and storage to marketing and consumption.

Key food & drink sector stats

  • There are an estimated 856,000 jobs linked directly to the food chain in the Midlands Engine region, equal to 6% of all employment
  • There are an estimated 66,000 food and drink sector businesses, 1% of all businesses in the Midlands Engine
  • In 2020, the food and drink sector is estimated to have contributed around £32bn GVA to the Midlands Engine economy, over 13% of the total
  • The Midlands is the second highest exporting region for food in 2021 with £1.8bn food goods exports, confirmed by the Food and Drink Federation
  • The region has the highest farmed area and the highest crop and livestock output of all English regions.

Seizing opportunities for growth

Alongside the core food chain, the report also highlights that there are significant academic specialisms in agriculture and food within the Midlands Engine, plus seven Food Enterprise Zones and world leading education and training offers in agri-food. Add to this the region’s growing reputation for novel and healthy foods and it’s clear to see how this puts the Midlands on a good footing to respond to key drivers for growth in the food & drink sector, including:

  • Clean growth – low carbon supply chains & renewable energy
  • Demand for healthier & plant-based foods
  • Automation and digitalisation
  • Call for shorter, more resilient supply chains
  • Reshoring

The report concludes that further investment and beneficial policy across the food chain will be required to overcome barriers in the sector and enable the region to take full advantage of the opportunities.

View the full report:


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