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South West

The South West food and drink manufacturing sector generates £4.5billion turnover annually, accounting for 7% of England’s sector turnover.

The sector employs around 37,200 people. It accounts for 11% of the food and drink manufacturing sector’s workforce in England. Sector employment is concentrated in Cornwall (20%), Somerset (18%), Devon (12%), Gloucestershire (11%) and Wiltshire (10%).

There are 1,200 workplaces in the sector, accounting for 13% of English sector workplaces. 65% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and only 3% work in organisations of over 200 staff.

The South West food and drink sector makes up 15% of the region’s total manufacturing workforce.

Between 2000 and 2007, 4,000 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 10% drop in employment levels (lower than UK sector average of -17%). The bakery and meat processing sectors dominate South West employment in the sector; accounting for 24% and 20% of the region’s food and drink processing employment, respectively. The bakery sub-sector has experienced an increase in employment numbers 2000- 2007.

Workforce statistics:

  • 68% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the meat, dairy and beverages sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the fish processing, oils and fats, and bakery sub-sectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 27,300 to 25,400 workers (-7% drop in employment levels) whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 13,900 to 11,800 workers (-15% drop in numbers).
  • 89% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 25% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 4% of all male workers.
  • The age profile of the workforce is: 30-34 years (15%); 35-39 years (12%); 40-44 years (12%); and 45-49 years (13%).
  • Over a third of the current workforce will retire in the next 20 years.
  • 97% of employees are white and 3% are Asian/Asian British.
  • 3,600 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 8% of sector workers in the SW have some form of work-limiting disability, 4% are registered as work-limiting disabled only and 4% are registered as DDA disabled and work-limiting disabled. A further 4% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 5% of people working in sector are self-employed.
  • 2,300 workers (11%) in the sector have no qualifications, a smaller proportion than the UK sector average (14%).
  • 6,600 workers (12%) in the sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • 18% of employers in the sector report vacancies, a similar proportion to the English sector average (16%).
  • 8% of sector employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, which is a slightly higher than the English sector average (5%).
  • 3% of employers report vacancies that are hard-to-fill due to skills shortages (English sector average 2%).
  • 17% of sector employers have workforce skills gaps.
  • Total employment in the sector is forecast to fall by approximately 13% between 2007-2017.
  • Despite the decline in employment numbers, projections indicate that the sector in the region will need 10,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.


Source: South West Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010