Growth shoots are being seen in Northamptonshire’s £1.5 billion food and drink sector, according to a new report.
The report was commissioned by the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, whose task it is to spearhead economic growth in the county, which is home to major global food and drink brands such as Weetabix and Carlsberg.
It found that while there was a national three per cent decline decline in employment in the food and drink sector, Northamptonshire is bucking the trend, recording a rise of five per cent with NEP expecting a further 3,500 new jobs to be created in the sector by 2021.
NEP found that of the 14 per cent of jobs in the county linked to the food and drink sector, half are reliant on wheat while 10 per cent of all UK wheat is stored, milled and processed in Northamptonshire.
The county is also the most active in terms of brewing with 16 per cent of the UK’s brewing capacity based here, from Carlsberg UK down to specialist firms such as Hoggleys and Frog Island.
Chief among the reasons for the success of the sector is Northamptonshire’s central location with companies such as Tesco, Coca-Cola, Morrisons, Asda, British Pepper & Spice and Whitworths taking advantage of the location for its overall distribution.
Rob Purdie, Executive Director at NEP, said, “We believe the growth in Northamptonshire’s food and drink sector is directly linked to this renewed focus on reducing supply chain costs and, as the report shows, the trend looks like it will continue, as the cost of transport costs continues to rise,.”
Giles Turrell, CEO at Weetabix, said, “Weetabix is very proud to be celebrating its 80th birthday this year from the same site in Burton Latimer, , that it commenced production in 1932. We make 70 million Weetabix a week and source our grain from farms within 50-miles of Burton Latimer. Our farmers are a key partner for us and it helps the local economy too.”
David Bodily of Carlsberg UK said: “We are proud to be based in such a forward thinking and enterprising county. We have been brewing, marketing and distributing beer in Northampton since the 1970s and have recently invested £20m in a brand new bottling plant which is set to open in the New Year. This not only secures our future in the county, but creates many jobs for the local community.”