The Food and Drink FederationA Corporate Profile By Corporate Watch UK
Completed November 2002
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF)Industry Areas: The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), through its 50 members, directly and indirectly represents approximately 95% of the UK food and drink manufacturing sector. Member organisations include the Rice Association, the Food Association, the Potato Processors Association, the British Soft Drinks Association and the Federation of Bakers. Overview: The FDF represents big business in the food and drink sector. Its current president is Peter Blackburn, former chair of Nestlé UK, and now also chair of Northern Foods. Food and drink industries use the FDF to promote their own interests to both government and the public. Such interests typically include:
The FDF relays these interests throught variosu campaigns and lobbying strategies to government and the public. Within government, FDF and/or industry representatives sit on numerous government committees responsible for dealing with food issues. Market share / Importance: The FDF is the principal trade federation representing UK food and drink producers. Through its 50 members, it represents a gross output of £65 billion, or 14% of total UK manufacturing. 500,000 people are employed within this sector: 12.7% of the UK manufacturing workforce. The FDF therefore calls itself the:
- the production of a globally competitive food production system which involves the intensification and genetic modification of agriculture, thereby minimising input costs for the food manufacturing industry;
- the promotion and support of high profit-margin, high value-added food and drink products - in practice this tends to mean highly processed products, often unhealthy and containing many additives.
- Ensuring that the research agenda in the universities and research institutions match the ever-increasing need for new products in the processed foods sector.
- Largest packaging client
- 2nd largest advertising client
- 3rd largest energy client
- Furthermore, the FDF indirectly (through its members) buys 2/3 of all UK agricultural produce.
ProjectsThe FDF has its own well-kept website with reports, news, documents and information concerning the food and drink industry at www.fdf.org.uk. It also runs tangential websites aimed at getting ‘science-based information’ over to the public:
www.foodfuture.org.uk looks at biotechnology and food;
www.foodfitness.org.uk encourages healthy eating combined with exercise;
www.foodlink.org.uk promotes good hygiene practices. The FDF’s more important job is to act as the ‘voice of the UK food and drink manufacturing industry’, in which role it aims to ‘improve the environment in which the UK food and drink manufacturing industry must operate: be it legislative, economic, social or political. It aims to safeguard the commercial interests of the industry and maximise its international competitiveness’. To this end, it is an active lobbying group; the website boasts that in 2001 it had ‘over 1,000 contacts with Ministers [and] Members of Parliaments at UK and EU level’ and had ‘hundreds of consultations with EU, Government and others’. Lady Jay, Director General of the FDF, explains that ‘FDF co-ordinated and represented industry in more than one hundred formal and informal consultation exercises’ . Lady Jay also explains that the FDF has helped create ‘an important forum which brings together the Presidents and Directors General of the four key groupings along the food chain - FDF, the NFU [National Farmer’s Union], the British Retail Consortium and the Institute of Grocery Distribution.’ She believes that this ‘ “joined-up” approach, this Whole Food Chain approach, is and will continue to be, a major element of our lobbying strategy.’ This is largely due to the fact that all four stakeholders hold a similar future vision for agriculture in the UK, one that revolves around global competitiveness, greater intensification of agriculture, and the widespread growth and use of GMOs. This lobbying forum also excludes some of the other interests in the food chain - namely small and family farmers, small organic producers, people working on local food economies, farm-workers and to a large extent consumers. References
 UK Food and Drink Industry Statistics 2000