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Mapping the UK Food System

Conceptual framework of the UK food system. Adapted from SUSFANS.

  • UK food security is underpinned by a complex, dynamic system
  • The food system consists of various actors and the factors that drive their decisions and the outcomes of the different food system activities
  • Recognising the full set of activities and their interactions is fundamental to enhancing food system outcomes

For each of the following pages, please click through to see the underlying information.

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Employment

Enterprises

Mapping the UK Food System

Economy

  • The UK food system is a major source of employment and livelihoods
  • It includes a wide range of enterprise types
  • It is a major driver of the UK economy


Click on the categories above to enter the respective pages

The data in these interactive webpages are drawn from the report titled 'Mapping the UK Food System'

Employment

Enterprises

Economy (£)

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Key Messages

  • In the UK, farming accounts for only 11% of the people employed in the food system.
  • Farming and processing have about the same number of employees.
  • By far the most people in the food system are employed in retailing and hospitality.


UK farmers


Agricultural input and output wholesalers

Fishing and aquaculture enterprises and fleets

Food and drink wholesaling

Food and drink retailers (various sites)

Catering (restaurants, cafes, and canteens)

Food and drink wholesalers

Packaging (overall, not food only)

Freight and logistics (overall, not food only)

Employment

Enterprises

Economy (£)

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Key Messages

  • In the UK, approximately the same number of enterprises are engaged in farming as in food trade.
  • 96% of food system enterprises are SMEs.
  • The food system relies on only a small number of input suppliers and packaging companies.


UK farmers

Agricultural input and output wholesalers

Fishing and aquaculture enterprises and fleets

Food and drink processing and manufacturing

Food and drink manufacturing (including some primary processing and complex prepared foods)

Food and drink retailers (various sites)

Catering (restaurants, cafes, and canteens)

Food and drink wholesalers

Packaging (overall, not food only)

Freight and logistics (overall, not food only)

Food imports and exports

Food and drink wholesaling

Employment

Enterprises

Economy (£)

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Key Messages

  • In the UK, approximately the same number of enterprises are engaged in farming as in food trade.
  • 96% of food system enterprises are SMEs.
  • The food system relies on only a small number of input suppliers and packaging companies.


UK farmers

Agricultural input and output wholesalers

Fishing and aquaculture enterprises and fleets

Food and drink processing and manufacturing

Food and drink manufacturing (including some primary processing and complex prepared foods)

Food and drink retailers (various sites)

Catering (restaurants, cafes, and canteens)

Food and drink wholesalers

Packaging (overall, not food only)

Freight and logistics (overall, not food only)

Food imports and exports

Food and drink wholesaling

Employment

Enterprises

Economy (£)

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Key Messages

  • The gross value add (GVA) increases along the food chain.
  • Although largely unseen, processing and manufacturing is about the same value as retailing.
  • Over 90% of retailed food items do not go through wholesaling companies.


  • The UK trade deficit in food and drink is £24.3 billion


UK farmers and primary producers, including rural England

Agricultural input and output wholesalers

UK farmers

Fishing and aquaculture enterprises and fleets

Food and drink processing and manufacturing

Food and drink wholesaling

Food and drink retailers (various sites)

Catering (restaurants, cafes, and canteens)

Food and drink wholesalers

Packaging (overall, not food only)

Freight and logistics (overall, not food only)

Food imports and exports

  • Non-residential catering accounted for 49% of the post-farm gate food chain in Q4 2018
  • Employment in non-residential catering increased 2.2% from last year
  • Women accounted for 53% of employees in non-residential catering

Source: ONS Labour Market Statistics 2019

    • UK Hospitality overall employs 3.2 million people directly, and 2.8 million indirectly
    • The sector generated 1 in 6 new jobs in the last decade

    Source: UK Hospitality 2015

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    UK direct hospitality employment – sub-sectors (BHA 2015)

      Source: UK Hospitality 2019

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      Over 90% of hospitality businesses are local SMEs

      Number of enterprises in the food and beverage serving industry in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2008 to 2018 (Statista 2020)

      Total factor productivity of UK catering (2000-2018) (Defra 2020)

        Consumers expenditure on food, drink, and catering (Defra 2018)

        UK: Direct hospitality GVA – sub sectors (BHA 2015)

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        Number employed in food retailing in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2003 to 2017 (in 1,000 persons) (Statista 2020)

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        Food-related UK shops as of 25 July 2019 (Lang 2020)

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        Sharp rate of growth in value and volume of food sales in March 2020 (ONS 2020)

        UK grocery market shares (Defra 2020)

        Total factor productivity of UK catering (2000-2018) (Defra 2020)

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        This data has not been disaggregated for food-related logistics

        Logistics employees and enterprises in the UK (FTA 2019)

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        This data has not been disaggregated for food-related logistics

        Logistics employees and enterprises in the UK (FTA 2019)

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        This data has not been disaggregated for food-related logistics

        aGVA of the UK Logistics Sector (FTA 2019)

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        Food and drink manufacturing employment in the UK (FDF 2017)

        Skill level in food and drink manufacturing (FDF 2017)

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        Proportion of SME businesses by food and drink subsector (FDF 2017)

        Composition of the food and drink manufacturing base (FDF 2017)

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        Percentage of turnover by business (FDF 2017)

        UK food and drink manufacturing (2018) (Defra 2020)

        Total factor productivity of the UK food manufacturing sector (Defra 2020)

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        Milk use by product, excluding liquid milk (UK) (million litres)

        • In April, UK dairies processed 1,243 million litres of milk
        • Production of liquid milk fell 9.7% t0 505 million litres in April from March
        • In the 12 month rolling average to April there was a 0.4% decrease in liquid milk, 0.4% increase in butter, and 0.2% increase in cheese production (compared to 12 months to March)
        • Cheese production is the largest manufactured product


        Source: Use of milk by dairies (Defra)

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        Number of fishermen in the UK (2008-2018) (MMO 2018)

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        Percentage of vessels in the 10m and under and over 10m sectors by country: 2018 (MMO 2018)

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        • Over 2/3rd of the UK fishing quota is managed by 25 businesses
        • 4/5th of the English fishing quota is controlled by foreign owners
        • The 5 largest quota holders control more than 1/3rd of all UK fishing quotas
        • Small fishing boats account for 77% of the fishing fleet, but have less than 4% of the quotes
        Source: Dowler 2018

        Number of local units in VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises in the fishing and aquaculture industry in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2019, by employment size band (Statista 2020)

        Facts

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        UK imports and exports by key species: 2018 (MMO 2018)

        International trade of fish (UK) (2008-2018) (MMO 2018)

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        Employment in agriculture in the UK (Defra 2018)

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        Numbers of holdings by size group and country at June 2017 (Defra 2018)

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        Farmer share of the final price of a white sliced loaf (Defra 2015)

        Trends in UK food production and final output at market prices (Defra 2020)

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        Nearly 2,700 people are employed in 85 businesses in the UK manufacturing pesticides and other agrochemicals (IBISWorld 2020)

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        There are approximately 22,000 people employed in the UK involved in the wholesaling of agricultural machinery and equipment (IBISWorld 2020)

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        There are approximately 2000 people employed in the UK in Fertiliser & Nitrogen Compound Manufacturing, with a market size of 2 billion GBP, with the largest market share occupied by CF Fertilisers UK Ltd, Origin UK Operations Ltd and Yara UK Ltd (IBISWorld 2020)

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        800 people are employed in 5 companies in Chemical & Fertiliser Mineral Mining in the UK (IBISWorld 2020)

        Fact

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        There are 85 businesses in the UK manufacturing pesticides and other agrochemicals, with a market size of approximately 890 million GBP (IBISWorld 2020)

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        The companies holding the largest market share in the Pesticide & Other Agrochemical Manufacturing in the UK industry include Nufarm UK Limited, Syngenta UK Ltd and BASF plc. (IBISWorld 2020)

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        There are approximately 2000 businesses in the UK involved in the wholesaling of agricultural machinery and equipment (e.g. tractors), with the largest market share occupied by Deere & Company and AGCO Limited (IBISWorld 2020)

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        There are approximately 100 businesses in the UK involved in the Fertiliser & Nitrogen Compound Manufacturing, with a market size of 2 billion GBP, with the largest market share occupied by CF Fertilisers UK Ltd, Origin UK Operations Ltd and Yara UK Ltd (IBISWorld 2020)

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        Changes in overall fertiliser nutrient application rates, England and Wales (2019) (AIC 2019)

        Average % area of major crops receiving organic manures (2019) (AIC 2019)

        UK farm input prices (AHDB 2019)

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        UK packaging (overall) regional employment (2005) (The Packaging Federation 2006)

        This data has not been disaggregated for food-related packaging

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        The 1400 businesses in packaging in the UK, are involved in pharmaceutical goods packaging, food and beverage packaging, chemical goods packaging, packaging of other goods, parcel packing and gift-wrapping.

        This data is not disaggregated for food-related packaging

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        UK packaging export dependency (2005) (The Packaging Federation 2006)

        UK packaging manufacturing cost matrix (2005) (The Packaging Federation 2006)

        This data has not been disaggregated for food-related packaging

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        Employment in wholesale distribution across the UK(FWD 2018)

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        Number of enterprises for the wholesale of food, beverages and tobacco in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2008 to 2018 (Statista 2020)

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        Total factor productivity of the UK food wholesale sector (Defra (2020)

        Sales to Food Service, Catering, and Hospitality, growth by category, 2016 (IGD 2017)

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        Origins of food consumed in the United Kingdom (Defra 2018)

        UK trade in different food groups, 2018 (Defra, 2020)

        Imports to the UK by country of fruit (red) and vegetables (green) (Defra 2019)

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        Of UK food and drink manufacturing , 90% of SMEs either do not trade internationally, or only with European countries.

        More details on food trading companies and enterprises could not be found

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