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Food Manufacturing in the UK: Why South Humber is the perfect location

2:44 pm, Wednesday, 11th August 2021 - 3 years ago

Known as Europe’s Food Town, Grimsby and the wider North East Lincolnshire region has historic roots in the food industry. Famed for its fishing heritage and benefitting from its location within the UK, the region is home to around 500 food-related companies and has one of the largest concentrations of food manufacturing, innovation, storage and distribution companies in Europe.

Businesses looking for the perfect location for food manufacturing in the UK will not be disappointed in the offering available to them in the South Humber area.

Key Highlights

  • 6x the Great Britain average for Food Manufacturing employees (% of total employees)
  • 60x the Great Britain average for Seafood Processing employees (% of total employees)
  • Home to around 500 food-related companies
  • The North East Lincolnshire food cluster employs up to 15,000 people
  • UK’s leading seafood cluster, processing around 70% of the nations seafood
  • Grimsby Fish Market: a European leader, handling around 20,000 tonnes of fresh fish per annum
  • Grimsby Seafood Village: incorporating 21 seafood processing units within the Port of Grimsby
  • Specialist food storage and distribution, including 230,000 tonnes of on-port/adjacent cold storage capacity at Grimsby
  • Direct port access, providing sea freight connectivity to European and global markets
  • Fast access to UK food production areas and consumer markets, from a ‘north-south central’ location, within 1 HGV driver shift
  • Home to the £5.6M Humber Seafood Institute. The first of its kind in the UK


Map of the United Kingdom showing where North East Lincolnshire is located, the perfect location for food manufacturing in the UK.

With a population of 159,826 (2017), the authority area covers 191.9km² and includes the main towns for Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Immingham. North East Lincolnshire itself hugs a stretch of the Humber Estuary, which is one of the busiest channels for shipping in the UK. The Port of Immingham alone is the UK’s largest port by tonnage, handling around 46 million tonnes of cargo every year.

In the wider Greater Lincolnshire region one-eighth of England’s food is produced. Greater Lincolnshire currently supports around 75,000 food sector jobs and is home to leading UK clusters in fish processing, vegetables, salads and fruit, poultry meat, eggs and arable crops. The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership is the driving force behind the Food Valley Programme, aimed at positioning the UK-leading food sector as a Top 10 Global Food Cluster.

Food Manufacturing Workforce

Versus the Great Britain average, as a percentage of the entire workforce, South Humber has 6x the amount of workers in food manufacturing, 60x the amount in fish & seafood processing and double the amount working within the process plant and machine operatives category.

Workers in Food Manufacturing

Location% of workers in food manufacturing (SIC10)
North East Lincolnshire7.5%
North Yorkshire3.7%
Great Britain Average1.2%
Source: ONS BRES 2018

As a percentage of all employees, North East Lincolnshire’s food manufacturing workforce is outstanding amongst key English and Scottish locations in this sector.

Workers in Fish and Seafood Processing and Preserving

LocationNumber of workers in fish and seafood processing and preserving
North East Lincolnshire4000
North Yorkshire300
Source: ONS BRES 2018

North East Lincolnshire’s fish and seafood processing and preserving workforce represents more than a quarter of Great Britain’s total workforce within this sector (15,000 workers).

Education to Support Food Manufacturing in the UK

Food businesses investing south of the Humber will be supported by strong and established key education and research institutions.

Grimsby Institute

Grimsby Institute is the Further and Higher Education college for the Grimsby and Immingham area.

The Institute delivers apprenticeship training tailored to the needs of the local food production / manufacturing sector. Apprenticeships are available for existing workers as well as new employees, and offer the flexibility of learning whilst working full-time.

Programmes include:

  • Food and Drink Process Operator
  • Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator
  • Team Leader / Supervisor
  • Operations Departmental Manager
  • Maintenance Engineering for the Food Sector

Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC)

The Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC), is a key research centre within Grimsby Institute. The centre provides advice and services to manufacturers, distribution and storage companies and government agencies in specialist areas including temperature legislation, equipment performance and legal disputes.

University of Lincoln – National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) (Holbeach)

A satellite campus of the University of Lincoln, the National Centre for Food Manufacturing offers part-time study for food industry employees and innovation for businesses. NCFM helps employees advance their careers through flexible learning solutions including part-time apprenticeships and distance-learning. NCFM supports sector innovation, working with employers and partners including leading equipment suppliers, and utilising specialist facilities, food factory, and cutting-edge automation.

Investment Opportunity for UK & International Food Manufacturing Businesses

Food businesses looking to invest in North East Lincolnshire will not be disappointed with the offering and the support available to your business throughout all stages of the relocation/start-up process.

The South Humber Industrial Investment Programme (SHIIP) is the most ambitious industrial project in North East Lincolnshire’s history. The £42-million project has been developed by North East Lincolnshire Council and is being delivered by its regeneration partner ENGIE.

Through the development of the ‘ready-made’ Pioneer Business Park, the SHIIP project will create 189 hectares (467 acres) of developed land with 489,000sqm of built floor space, ready to receive investment both domestically and internationally.

Cost savings businesses can benefit from include 12% rental cost savings vs East Midlands food manufacturing locations and 44% land cost savings vs East Midlands food cluster locations (Source: Colliers: H2 2020, Small Sheds).

The South Humber team of inward investment experts help companies identify their best possible business location in North East Lincolnshire and implement their relocation or expansion project as efficiently as possible.

Services to investing businesses include:

  • Commercial property, premises and land search service
  • Access to information on grants, funding and finance
  • Helping with workforce recruitment and skills development
  • Providing familiarisation tours to help you make the most of North East Lincolnshire’s offer
  • Working as a strategic partner and consultant with your project team
  • Help to manage the relationship between businesses and council departments e.g. planning, environmental considerations and access to initiatives and grants
  • Providing local market intelligence through up to date information.
  • Business relocation and market information
  • Listings of relevant local suppliers