To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to promote British food producers based in Staffordshire.
I am proud that, year after year, our farmers and food producers provide outstanding produce to high environmental standards. It is thanks to them that the UK has acquired a strong reputation for exceptional quality food and drink, produced to high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability. Staffordshire is no exception to this, with its excellent food and drink, including, of course, Staffordshire Cheese, which has its own Geographical Indication.
The entire Agri-Food sector, from farm to fork, contributed £121 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and supports approximately 4 million jobs (14% of national employment). Our goal is to strengthen our support to increase demand for these products further, so that more people buy British both at home and abroad.
We welcome efforts from all parts of the food chain to promote and source British products and I am aware that supermarkets are already taking steps to do so. The Secretary of State also has regular discussions with supermarkets, retailers and other stakeholders in the food and drink industry covering a wide range of issues.
This week, Defra and the Department for International Trade have launched a package of support that will offer immediate support to help agriculture, food and drink businesses grow their trade activity overseas. This will help producers, manufacturers and agri-tech companies across the food supply chain, from farm to fork, and has been developed with insight from the devolved administrations, trade associations, businesses and DIT’s regional and international networks.
We are also working closely with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) as they develop consumer-facing marketing campaigns for the meat and dairy sectors. We will continue to engage with and support similar initiatives that highlight the qualities of British meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetable products, such as those produced in Staffordshire. We will always champion British food producers and want people to value local produce.