Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, Prime Minister David Cameron described a package of measures that would boost British exports, expanding the 600 markets opened up for UK food products in the past five years.
These included more use of the 'GREAT' brand to stress the provenance of exported goods and more innovation through the UK-wide Food Innovation Network. This would give around 8000 small and medium-sized businesses greater access to technology and science.
The number of protected British food names – currently valued at more than £900 m – would be increased from 63 to 200 – a record number the Prime Minister said.
Birmingham's balti curry, Welsh laverbread, a paste made from laver seaweed and oatmeal, and Carmarthen ham were expected to be confirmed later this summer. According to Welsh legend – and Welsh ham manufacturers – the Camarthen ham recipe was stolen by the Romans and taken back to Italy where it was renamed Parma ham.
Less red tape was also on the cards – an overhaul of the current farm inspection process would mean 20,000 fewer farm inspections and an increase in productivity. A statement from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) described the current process as "a tangle of seven regulators".
'Ambitious to grow'
Industry trade group, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed the news. Director of competitiveness, Angela Coleshill, said: “The food and drink manufacturing sector is in a prime position to help government boost productivity and grow exports.
“We have continuously outperformed on exports which have almost doubled in value in our sector in the last decade – a testament to British quality brands and innovative products. We are ambitious to grow further and welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to British food producers.
“Any additional support to enable small and medium-sized food companies bring their products to new markets is particularly welcome.”
Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We are supporting the industry to drive up exports to record levels so more of our fantastic British food and drink is on supermarket shelves, and in bars and restaurants, from Beijing to Bogota.
“Our food and farming industry is already an economic powerhouse, worth over £100 billion a year and supporting one in eight jobs – removing barriers to growth will help these figures rise meaning more jobs and more investment in rural communities.
According to DEFRA figures, the UK food and drink sector launches around 16,000 new products every year – more than France and Germany combined and second in the world only to the US.