Food and drink sector can cope with crisis
By Ophélie Spanneut | Wednesday 02 May 2012
The European food and drink industry has proved to be very resilient to the crisis, registering growth of 1.3% between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2011. This compares with the average shrinkage of nearly 8% in other manufacturing sectors during the same period. In spite of these strong results, however, the industry has seen a slight decline in its number of employees, from 4.2 million in 2009 to 4.1 million in 2010.
These findings are contained in a report on data and trends of the European food and drink industry in 2011, published by FoodDrinkEurope, which represents the sector’s interests in Europe. The study shows that this industry is the largest manufacturing sector in Europe, accounting for 16% of turnover in 2011, or €956 billion, making it the leading employer in the EU manufacturing sector.
The food and drink industry registered strong exports in 2011. Its surplus of €9.8 billion represented growth of 21.5% compared with 2009, due in large measure to the strong performance of dairy products. Exports to the emerging countries expanded sharply: +466% to China since 2001. Imports are also increasing, in particular from ASEAN and Mercosur countries, to meet growing demand for palm oil (+25%), coconut oil (+75%), sugar (+65%), crustaceans and frozen fish.
SMEs make up more than 99% of companies in the sector and account for 48.7% of total turnover, a larger share than in other manufacturing industries. Large enterprises are particularly important in the United Kingdom and Germany, where they make up 4.3% and 2.4%, respectively, of total companies.