Skip to main content


23,700 people are employed are in the food and drink manufacturing sector. It accounts for 6% of the sector’s workforce in Great Britain and 15% of Wales total manufacturing workforce. Sector employment is concentrated in Flintshire (13%), Wrexham (11%), Cardiff (10%), and Newport (8%).

There are more than 600 workplaces in the Welsh Food and Drink manufacturing sector, accounting for 6% of Great Britain sector workplaces. 65% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and 5% work in organisations of over 200 staff. Workplaces in the sector are concentrated in Carmarthenshire (9%), Powys (8%) and Gwynedd (7%). The bakery, wholesale of other food (including fish, crustaceans and molluscs), and meat sectors dominate the sector’s workplaces in Wales.

The sector is highly productive, contributing 2% of the UK food and drink manufacturing sector ’s turnover.

The Welsh food and drink manufacturing sector’s mean gross weekly pay is £318 per week

Between 2000 and 2007, more than 800 jobs were created, equivalent to a 4% increase in employment levels. These job gains have been experienced primarily in the meat processing and milling and starches sub-sectors. The meat and bakery sub-sectors dominate Welsh employment in the sector, accounting for 31% and 26% of the nation’s food and drink processing employment, respectively.

Total employment in the sector is forecast to increase by approximately 4% between 2007-2017, in contrast to the UK sector average which is expected to see a 6% decline. Projections indicate that the sector in Wales will need 10,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

Workforce statistics:

  • 67% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the milling and starches, animal feeds and dairy sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the bakery, fish processing and confectionery subsectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce increased from 14,700 to 16,000 workers (9% rise in employment levels) whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 8,200 to 7,800 workers (5% fall in numbers).
  • 89% of the workforce is employed full-time
  • 26% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 3% of all male workers.
  • Employees are aged: 45-49 years (25%); 30-34 years (15%); and 20-24 years (13%).
  • Only 19% of the workforce is aged 16-30 years.
  • 47% of the current workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next 20 years.
  • 4% of people working in the sector are self-employed.
  • 2,600 workers (17%) in the sector have no qualifications, a notably larger proportion than the UK sector average (14%).
  • 3,100 workers (20%) hold qualifications below level 2, compared with the UK sector average (15%).
  • 1,900 workers (12%) in the Welsh sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • 8% of businesses reported difficulties in filling vacancies.
  • For those employers who did report recruitment difficulties, these were found in higher-level management or technical roles.
  • Larger companies were more likely to report problems filling vacancies.

The majority of Welsh sector businesses provide some type of training for staff. This was mainly in-house training ranging from work shadowing, training on equipment, to level 1 Health and Safety and Food Hygiene. Training for production, operational, technical and sales and marketing staff tended to be evenly split between on and off-the-job training. 22% of employers had used training providers based in England.

Source: Wales Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010