£14bn food and drink industry ‘needs Brexit help’

James Chadwick

Grant Thornton has warned that fluctuating currency conditions and uncertainty over potential future trade tariffs could damage Scotland’s £14.4 billion food and drink industry that employs more than 360,000 people.

The business and financial advisory firm is calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to develop a range of post-Brexit support measures tailored for the industry.

It said that according to the Scottish Annual Business Statistics (SABs), the Scottish food and drink industry is valued at more than £14.4 billion and remains on track to achieve its revenue target of £16.5 billion by next year.

“Part of the success has been down to a relentless focus by the industry on export growth, with £4.8 billion worth of food and drink now being shipped to key markets, including the United States and European Union,” said Grant Thornton.

“While currency changes can produce short term benefits for export-focused businesses, there are fears that ongoing instability and rapid market fluctuations could halt any further growth in an industry that currently employs more than 360,000 people in Scotland. ”

Grant Thornton is calling on both Westminster and Holyrood to consider “a bespoke package of measures to support the industry, similar to those being implemented to assist the country’s oil and gas sector.”

James Chadwick, Grant Thornton’s Head of Food & Drink in Scotland, said: “The last few months and years have presented real obstacles to growth for Scotland’s food and drink sector, with major political upsets and growing economic challenges …

“If the success story is to continue, we need to see a raft of measures aimed specifically at supporting the industry and guiding it through potentially significant economic challenges in the future — particularly the potential for trading tariffs and other protectionist measures which could make export growth unviable.”