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East of England

The East of England food and drink manufacturing sector generates £9.5 billion turnover annually, accounting for 15% of England’s sector turnover. The regional workforce is approximately 37,100, accounting for 11% of the sector’s workforce in the UK food and drink manufacturing employment. Sector employment is concentrated in Norfolk (26%), Suffolk (26%), Cambridgeshire (14%), Essex (10%) and Hertfordshire (7%).

There are more than 900 workplaces, accounting for 10% of English sector workplaces.

The wholesale of other food, meat and beverages sub-sectors dominate the sector’s workplaces. 64% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and 6% work in organisations of over 200 staff.

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

Between 2000 and 2007, 8,900 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 19% drop in employment levels. The meat (37%), and fruit and vegetable processing (12%) sub-sectors dominate the region’s employment in the sector. The bakery sub-sector has experienced a decline in employment numbers between 2000- 2007; from 5,500-2,700 workers over this period.

Workforce statistics:

  • 69% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate in the dairy, animal feeds, and beverages sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the confectionery, oils and fats, and bakery sub-sectors.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 31,200 to 25,600 workers (-18% drop in employment levels), whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 14,800 to 11,500 workers (-22% drop in numbers).
  • 91% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 20% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 4% of all male workers.
  • The majority of employees are aged 35-39 years (22%) and 40-44 years (15%).
  • 91% of employees are white, 3% are Asian/Asian British, 1% are Black or Black British, and 5% Other Ethnic Group.
  • 6,200 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 8% of sector workers 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 6% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 3% of people working in the sector are estimated to be self-employed.
  • 4,100 workers (13%) in the sector have no qualifications, a similar proportion to the UK sector average (14%).
  • 5,400 workers (17%) hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • 13% of employers in the sector report vacancies, a smaller proportion than the English sector average (16%).
  • 4% of employers have hard-to-fill vacancies, which is a slightly lower proportion than the English sector average (5%).
  • 2% of employers report vacancies that are hard-to-fill due to skills shortages (English sector average 2%).
  • 11% of sector employers have workforce skills gaps, which are mainly for process, plant and machine operative roles (5%).
  • 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 8,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

Source: East of England Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010