The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is the third largest economy in Europe, after Germany and France. Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account for the largest proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while manufacturing continues to decline in importance. Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized and efficient by European standards but, in terms of gross added value, represents less than 1 percent of GDP. While UK agriculture produces about 60 percent of the country’s food needs with less than 2 percent of the labor force, the UK is heavily reliant on imports to meet the varied demands of the UK consumer who also expect year round availability of all food products.
The UK has strong social and cultural ties to the United States, demonstrated by the similarities in consumer trends in the retail and food service markets. The UK presents strong market opportunities for many U.S. consumer-orientated products, including specialty food products, “healthy” food items, wine, sauces, fruit, nuts and juices. “Health” and convenience foods are main driving forces in the UK value-added food and beverage market. Consumers in this wealthy country are looking for variety in high quality food products, especially those perceived to have health benefits.