Skip to content

Food and drink

The food and drink sector consists of businesses that grow food and ingredients, process food and ingredients, and distribute products to retailers and other markets. 

Raspberries on a conveyor belt in a factory

Introducing the food and drink sector

UK farmers grow food and drink ingredients outdoors and under cover. 8.9 million hectares of land in England are utilised for growing food. 4.9 million hectares are used for crops, and 3.6 million hectares are for permanent grassland. The outputs of this are then transported to manufacturing plants to be processed into the packaged food and drink we find in our retail outlets and other markets. 

The importance of going green in food and drink

Climate change and food and drink production are closely linked. Around 35% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from our food and drink sector (including emissions from imported food). Emissions from agriculture and food manufacture come from livestock; agricultural soils; stationary combustion sources and off-road machinery; and fuels to power factories and freight. The greenhouse gases nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide are the main contributors to climate change from this sector. 

Food is responsible for 15%-30% of UK GHG emissions
Most of these are from agriculture (45%), food manufacture (12%) and transport (12%)
The percentage of land in England utilised for growing food: 69%
Information kindly supplied by:
Vitacress logo

Vitacress, one of Europe’s leading suppliers of fresh produce.

Created by

IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals