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Food manufacturing construction

As Britain’s reliance on imported food & drink has come under the spotlight during the coronavirus crisis, moves to boost domestic output in the sector are set to bring opportunities for construction as food manufacturers and agricultural businesses gear up for expansion.

Food & drink is one of the country’s largest industries; generating output worth £108 billion and employing almost four million people. The recent sight of empty supermarket shelves has underlined the dangers to the country’s ‘food security’ from an over-reliance on imports, which currently meet around 39% of the UK’s needs. In sectors such as horticulture, the figure is higher.

Meanwhile, one aim of the government’s new Agriculture Bill which is set to replace the Common Agricultural Policy is to boost productivity and maximise the potential of land for sustainable food production.

Encouraging outlook

When the coronavirus crisis passes, the underlying outlook for new construction projects by food producers is encouraging. A survey by the Food & Drink Federation taken before the lockdown showed that 47% of its manufacturing members saw UK business investment rising in 2020 and nearly two thirds saw an increase in domestic demand. Labour shortages are also encouraging food manufacturers – and farmers - to invest more in boosting productivity.

One specialist contractor in the sector, Clegg Food Projects, said recently that 2020 was set to be a busy year and its current level of work pointed to ‘another year of significant growth.’ One key project for the firm is a new £14 million flour mill and packaging plant for GR Wright in Harlow where work is set to continue until summer 2020 (Glenigan Project ID: 17160160).

Glenigan construction data highlights a series of construction projects in the pipeline across the food & drinks sector which provide opportunities on smaller and medium sized contracts in the regions.

In Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, detailed plans have been approved for a £10.7 million redevelopment of Long Clawson Dairy which involves the construction of new cheese maturation buildings and the relocation of offices. Tenders have yet to be invited on the project where work could start this summer and continue for nine months (Glenigan Project ID: 18422349).

Further east on Humberside, Icelandic Seachill East has submitted plans for a £12.8 million project involving a single storey extension to its facility in Grimsby, where construction work could start later this year (Glenigan Project ID: 18199072).

Meanwhile, in Norfolk, Cranswick Country Foods has recently submitted plans for a £1.3 million extension to its plant in Thetford involving various infrastructure works and where work could start later this year and continue for six months (Glenigan Project ID: 20149743).

Opportunities for smaller contractors

For smaller contractors, agricultural buildings can also offer some good opportunities for new construction work. Glenigan data highlights a plethora of smaller contracts nationwide which are at the pre-tender stage, mainly valued below £250,000.

But there are also some larger ones. Detailed plans have been submitted for a new £1.4 million agricultural building for young dairy stock at Little Kington Farm at Gillingham in Dorset where work is set to start in late 2020.

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