Defra, the food and rural affairs ministry, has
announced plans to withdraw funding from the body
responsible for promoting British food overseas, causing
an outcry from struggling food manufacturers.
Food From Britain (FFB), which was founded in 1983 to
promote exports of UK-produced food and drink, will be
wound up at the end of March next year following a
review by Defra.
During its existence FFB helped turn Quorn, the
vegetarian meat alternative, into a household name in
the US. It also helped Tyrrells Crisps, the upmarket
snack company, crack the French market with its parsnip
chips, even though the French traditionally see parsnips
as food for pigs.
Lady Sylvia Jay, the chairman of FFB, expressed her
disappointment at the withdrawal of funding. She said
Defra had initially said it would stop funding in 2011,
but that an internal decision was "reluctantly" taken by
FFB this week to wind up the organisation at the end of
One high-profile food industry executive said: "The
penny-pinchers at Defra have pulled all funding from
Food From Britain. It shows a lack of commitment from
the Government to supporting its biggest manufacturing
sector, just a week after the Chancellor stood up in the
Commons in the Budget and said he was committed to
A Defra spokesman said that over the years FFB had
"provided excellent support" to exporters of food and
drink. "But this is not a priority area for Defra, and
ministers felt that the money that we have been giving
to FFB could be used to better effect elsewhere. They
have also decided that Defra should no longer provide
subsidised advice for individual businesses and this has
been another factor in the decision.
"FFB has done a good job in helping to raise the profile
and importance of the regional food sector. Having done
so, we believe it can now be left to others such as the
regional development agencies and regional food groups
to take activity forward," he added.
FFB gets about ?5m a year from Defra. It has nine
"private sector" offices in Europe and the US, which FFB
said will continue to support British food companies
doing business in their markets.