New Great British Food Unit launched during ministerial visit to Weetabix in Burton Latimer

The Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer.
The Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer.

Burton Latimer’s Weetabix factory is to host the launch of a new Great British Food Unit during a ministerial visit from the Environment Secretary.

The unit will help to increase UK food exports and support industry growth plans, like the target of increasing manufactured food exports to £6bn by 2020, environment secretary Elizabeth Truss is expected to announce today.

Marking the launch of the unit, breakfast cereal giant Weetabix has repeated its pledge first made in 2010 to source all of its wheat from local farmers, helping guarantee the quality of its wholegrain wheat, supporting the rural economy and protecting the environment.

Ahead of the visit to the Weetabix factory, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We produce more new food products each year than France and Germany combined.

“My long-term aspiration is for the UK to match both these countries in terms of the value of exports so our food and drink becomes a worldwide phenomenon.

“From Weetabix to Yeo Valley yoghurt, I want to see more of the Great British breakfast enjoyed around the world.

“Through the creation of the new Great British Food Unit companies large and small will now find it easier to export overseas and receive foreign investment.

“It is vital for our economic future that we make British food and farming all it can be – over the next five years we will do that by backing big business, supporting punchy start-ups and embracing our rich food heritage.”

The launch of the unit comes as the Government announced 2016 as the Year of Great British Food.

It also follows last November’s launch of the first food and drink pioneers who will promote the very best in British food across the country and overseas, inspiring people everywhere to choose British.

Director general of the Food and Drink Federation Ian Wright said: “UK food and drink is a major national asset and the envy of the world.

“The Government’s new Great British Food Unit, announced today, could be a real game changer for UK food and drink exports.

“Helping this country’s 6,000-plus producers, many of them small enterprises, to compete in the fiercely competitive global marketplace will help us meet our ambitious target to grow value added exports by a third to £6bn by 2020.

“We strongly share the Government’s commitment to making the UK the investment destination of choice, and agree that a growing and sustainable food and drink industry is vital to our shared economic future.

“Through the industry and Government partnership promised by the unit – kicked off in this, the Year of Great British Food – we will work to give Britain’s makers, bakers and bottlers the support they need to thrive.”