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The UK’s Top Ten Food Manufacturers

There's no denying the importance of the UK's food manufacturing industry. Food and drink contributes £28.8 billion to our economy each year, and it's the biggest manufacturing sector in the country - larger than both aerospace and automotive manufacturing combined. It currently employs around 400,000 people, but by 2024, the industry will need to recruit another 140,000 people to feed a population that is expected to grow to 70 million.

Within the industry, there are some huge multinational players that have their headquarters in the UK. Here is a rundown of the top 10 food manufacturers in the UK...


  1. Mars

Based in Slough, the Mars Food UK office was opened in 1932. It's not just the Mars bar they're known for - brand names produced by Mars include Twix, Starburst, Skittles, Galaxy, M&Ms and more. The UK is also home to Mars Drinks Ltd, which supplies the KLIX and FLAVIA brands to drinks vending machines. They have a real focus on doing their bit for the environment and conducting their own research into food safety.


  1. Unilever

Founded in 1930, Unilever is headquartered in both London and Rotterdam. The company has a truly diverse list of food and drink brands that include everything from Bovril and Brooke Bond tea to Maille mustard and Marmite. The CEO puts their continuing success down to sustainability. Total turnover hit €53.7bn in 2017, with 1% growth in the food sector, and 4.9% in refreshments.


  1. Diageo PLC

Alcoholic drinks company Diageo is responsible for everything from Baileys to Guinness. It enjoyed revenue of £18.11 billion in 2017. Headquartered in London, the company began life in 1997 and with regular acquisitions and a consistent demand for alcoholic drinks, their growth is no surprise. They also have a strong commitment to doing things right, as evidenced by their global risk controls and compliance programme, which they talk extensively about on their website.


  1. Associated British Foods PLC

ABF's revenue hit £15,357 million in 2017: understandable, when you consider that the company is responsible for British favourites that include Dorset and Jordans cereals, Ryvita, Silver Spoon and Twinings. Based in London, they're the world's second-largest producer of both bakers' yeast and sugar, and since 1935 they've been expanding their operations across the globe, while focusing on an ethical approach.


  1. ABP Food Group

Birmingham-based ABP are all about the meat - supplying fresh and frozen meat and meat-free products to major supermarkets. They're keen to highlight their compliance with Red Tractor Assurance, which assures customers of traceability, welfare, food safety & hygiene and more. Since 1994 when they were founded, they've continued to grow, with a €2.8 billion turnover in 2017.


  1. United Biscuits

Responsible for McVities biscuits and Jacob's snack varieties among others, United Biscuits operates out of London and began life in 1948. Although recent profits were hit by the floods of 2017, they're still a huge player in the UK food manufacturer market, with growth driven by NPD and exports, and a focus on consumer health.


  1. Noble Foods

Founded in 1920, Noble Foods is headquartered in Hertfordshire and includes The Happy Egg Co and Gu desserts in its portfolio. It also focuses on eggs, egg products and poultry products, with operating profits around the £50m mark. One of their core company values is "being responsible", and thus health and safety is of vital importance.


  1. Lakeland Dairies

Irish dairy co-operative Lakeland Dairies started in 1990 and supplies a huge range of dairy products across Ireland. Their profits rose to £14.9m in 2017, with recent successes chalked up to a global reduction in dairy supplies. They have a huge commitment to sustainability and CSR, as well as the highest quality standards.


  1. Moy Park

With a pre-tax profit of £41m in 2016, Northern Ireland's largest poultry producer, Moy Park, has been trading since 1943 and is the country's largest employer. It supplies chicken and chicken products to the food industry, and its growth is due to increased production and global expansion. They're careful to pick the right suppliers to ensure compliance.


  1. Premier Foods PLC

Established in 1976, Premier Foods is based in St Albans. Like many of the others on this list, they own a number of popular brands that include Mr Kipling, Homepride, Oxo, Bisto and Ambrosia. Quality is key, and they work with a food testing centre to carry out 80,000 tests on both finished products and ingredients each year.

These 10 companies wouldn't be where they are today without strict adherence to industry regulations and standards. Hygiene and avoiding contamination is key to the food and drink industry - find out how you can stay on top of your game with our metal detectable silicone products.

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