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North East

The North East food and drink manufacturing sector generates £0.8 billion turnover annually, accounting for just 1% of England’s sector turnover. The sector employs an estimated 14,400 people. It accounts for 4% of the food and drink manufacturing sector’s workforce in England. Sector employment is concentrated in County Durham (26%), Stockton-on-Tees (16%), Northumberland (12%), Gateshead (11%) and Newcastle (10%).

There are more than 400 workplaces in the North East food and drink manufacturing sector, accounting for 5% of English sector workplaces. 64% of staff work in organisations of between 1 and 10 staff, and only 4% work in organisations of over 200 staff.

The North East food and drink sector makes up 11% of the North East’s total manufacturing workforce.

Between 2000 and 2007, 4,900 jobs were lost, equivalent to a 25% drop in employment levels (a larger decline than the UK sector average of –17%). The bakery and meat sub-sectors dominate North East employment in the sector, accounting for 32% and 17% of the region’s food and drink processing employment, respectively.

Workforce statistics:

  • 66% of the workforce is male.
  • Males tend to dominate employment in the beverages and dairy sub-sectors and women account for a greater than average share in the other foods sub-sector.
  • Between 2000 and 2007, the male share of the workforce declined from 11,500 to 9,500 workers (-18% drop in employment levels), whereas the female share of the workforce declined from 7,900 to 4,900 workers (-37% drop in numbers).
  • 86% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 29% of all female workers are employed part-time, compared with 4% of all male workers.
  • The majority of employees are aged 45-49 years (27%).
  • 53% of the current workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next 20 years.
  • 95% of sector employees are white and 5% are Chinese.
  • 1,600 non-UK nationals are estimated to be working in the sector.
  • 2% of sector workers are registered as DDA disabled and work-limiting disabled. A further 4% are registered as DDA disabled.
  • 1% of people working in the sector are estimated to be self-employed.
  • 2,900 workers (23%) in the sector have no qualifications, compared with the English sector average (13%).
  • 1,100 workers (9%) in the sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above.

Vacancies and skills:

  • Most companies report few vacancies.
  • At the operational/production level the critical skills needs are those which ensure that the business complies with government legislation and the demands of the multiples.
  • Total employment in the sector is forecast to fall by approximately 9% between 2007-2017.
  • Despite the decline in employment numbers, projections indicate that the sector in the North East will need 4,000 new recruits between 2007-2017.

Source: North East Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010