Food and drink: grow your business in the UK

  • UK consumer spend of 230bn GBP
  • strong demands for new products - 8,500 new products are added to supermarkets each years
  • Europe’s 743 million consumers are within easy reach of the UK, thanks to its location, strong supply chain and distribution infrastructure
110 billion GBP contributed in 2015
  • UK food and drink: at a glance

    The UK has the lowest corporation tax among the G20 nations (19%) and lower labour costs than Germany, France and Italy.

    The UK food and drink market offers:

    • rapid growth: UK consumer expenditure on food, drink and catering was 203 billion GBP in 2016
    • research: the UK is a thriving centre for research and product development in food and drink, pioneering ethical, health and convenience foods
    • access to other markets: European companies use the UK as a springboard to the rest of the world
    • quality and safety: the UK leads the development of stable, ethical and traceable global supply chains
  • Research and development

    The UK pioneered frozen food, ready-meals and instant coffee and continues to change the way people eat and drink. The UK’s functional food market - creating products with added healthy ingredients - was worth around 1.2 billion GBP in 2014 and has grown annually by 13%, from 335 million GBP in 2000.

    The UK is a globally recognised centre for food and drink research with an emphasis on new product development, greater convenience and healthier products. PepsiCo, Mars and Unilever all have food and drink research and development operations in the UK.

    Some of the world’s best research facilities host collaborations between universities and food and drink companies. Swiss company, Nestlé, has a product technology centre in York, which is developing new technologies and products for UK consumers and for Nestlé’s businesses around the world.

    Companies investing in food and drink research in the UK may qualify for lower rates of corporation tax, under the government’s research and development tax relief scheme.

  • Food and drink packaging

    The UK packaging industry is a large and developed sector with annual sales of 10.9 billion GBP. Of this, 7.1 billion GBP is used for food and drink. The majority of UK production is sold in the UK and a majority of UK sales are made in the UK.

    There are 85,000 jobs in the packaging sector, representing 3% of UK manufacturing employment.

    Packaging in the UK helps supports the demand to reduce waste. The UK wastes just 3% of food, which is very low by international and historic standards. And over 67% of packaging in the UK is recycled, which is ahead of EU targets.

  • UK government support

    The UK government can support your food and drink business in the UK by offering:

    • information on how easy it is to set-up in the UK
    • financial support for investors from UK Export Finance
    • help to meet UK business contacts and UK government officials at investment events and trade missions worldwide.

    If you’re an entrepreneur looking to bring your food tech business to the UK, get in touch with our global entrepreneurs team to be linked with UK dealmakers.

  • Locations

    The UK specialises in high quality food and drink, including:

  • Next steps

    We can help you grow your business in the UK

    Whether you’ve already decided to grow your business here or you’re just starting your research, the UK government can help you make the right decision.

    Research your industry

    You should research your market to help you decide if the UK is the best place for your business. Contact our Investment Services Team to get market research and other expert help and advice.

    Want to move your business to the UK?

    You’ll need to follow several steps before moving to the UK, including applying for visas and finding the ideal location for your business. Read our UK setup guide.

    The UK government can give you free help and support every step of the way. Contact us to find out more.