As Brexit inches ever closer, UK food and drinks companies are looking past the uncertainty and out to new and growing international markets.
This prompted seven leading and innovative food and drink companies to head out to Delhi and Mumbai last week on a UK India Business Council (UKIBC) Trade Mission lead by the Chief Executive of the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright.
Why India? To put it one way, the food and drink industry in India was estimated to be worth £193 billion in 2017. By 2020, this industry will be worth £325 billion. Putting this into context, the UK food and drink manufacturing industry has a turnover of £97.3 billion accounting for 19% of total UK manufacturing.
With strong domestic demand attributed to a burgeoning young middle class with growing disposable income and a willingness to spend it on higher-cost preferences, India’s potential market is quite simply enormous.
All the while, UK brands carry more weight in India than almost anywhere else. As the UK Government transitions from an international trade campaign titled ‘GREAT Britain’ to one titled ‘Global Britain’ after Brexit, the UK’s food and drink offer is steadfastly associated with provenance, quality, and innovation.
Though ‘ease of doing business’ barriers still exist, this means there is a clear competitive advantage for UK companies looking outwards to one of the largest, most UK-receptive and fastest growing food and drinks markets in the world.
It was this market and its remaining barriers to business that UKIBC’s Trade Mission went to get to grips with.
Delegates from Ramsden International, Booker Wholesale, MangaJo Drinks, Worsley Gin, Greene King, Farmison & Co., and Matugga Rum, supported by the Department for International Trade, proudly showcased their high-quality products at the two-day 2019 India Food Forum in Delhi attended by thousands of global visitors.
Following the Forum, UKIBC hosted numerous meetings between UK delegates and officials from key Indian Government departments including the national Food Safety and Standards Authority, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the national investment organisation, INVEST India, as well as a reception with the UK Director of Trade & Innovation for South Asia.
This Mission comes at a time when UK food and drink companies are looking outwards with new impetus and there is ample opportunity for India’s emerging food and drink regulatory landscape to adopt global best practice.
Currently UK-India food and drink trade is under-developed. With a smooth Brexit and focused ‘ease of doing business’ reform at both the State and Union levels in India, there is a unique opportunity for UK businesses and Indian authorities to work towards market innovation and investment.
For UK firms this could open new revenue streams safeguarding against an uncertain Brexit, for India this opportunity means increasing both government revenues and consumer choice.
As the Food and Drink Federation Chief Executive, Ian Wright, shared: “For UK food and drink companies looking to succeed globally, India is a market that simply cannot be ignored. So I am delighted to lead the UK India Business Council’s Trade Mission of dynamic, outward-looking UK food and drink companies to the India Food Forum 2019. Our visit could not come at better time. It’s imperative to step-up advocacy for UK food and drink in key markets across the world and India is one of the most exciting opportunities.”
For the seven initial participating UK companies, their exploratory Mission may well just be the start of a journey many more UK food and drinks companies will follow as Brexit draws closer.
Notes to Editors
About the UKIBC
The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) is the premier membership-led organisation supporting the promotion of trade, business and investment between the two countries. UKIBC plays an influential role in creating and sustaining an environment in which free-trade and investment flourishes. Through its insights, networks, policy advocacy, services and facilities, the UK India Business Council supports UK businesses to achieve success.
About the Food and Drink Federation
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.
For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit: www.fdf.org.uk
To read the full account of the Trade Mission visit the dedicated blog updated daily at UKIBC’s website here: www.ukibc.com/ukibc-2019-food-and-drink-trade-mission-to-india/.
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