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UK Food and Drink Businesses Looking Past Brexit and Out to India

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.

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.