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Food and Drink

Mark Suthern

Mark is Managing Director & National Head of Agriculture for Barclays Bank where he leads a team of around 200 colleagues within the UK focused entirely on Farming, Landed Estates, Agri-Tech and Energy & Environment. Amongst his work with many associations, Mark is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, a Fellow of the RSA,  a Fellow of the Institute of Sales Marketing and Management, an Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies, a member of the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, a member of The Farmers Club, a Council Member with the Institute of Agricultural Management, and Chair of The Board of Trustees for  The Farming Community Network Charity.

One business success

  • Between February 2019 and the end of April 2020 we lent over £1bn via loans into the UK agricultural sector with  many overdraft increases above and beyond that figure. That is something I am very proud of, as is everyone in the Barclays Agricultural Team.

Two challenges for the sector

  • Uncertainty: the lack of clarity for the industry as we leave the EU and the implications on longer-term policies are difficult to manage in an industry which has a production cycle of years not days or weeks
  • Agriculture’s demand for skilled picking labour  - having access to that source of labour is something which has been bought under an even more acute focus through the pandemic. The sector needs to ensure that labour is available to maintain the vibrant industries we have in soft fruit, top fruit and veg.

Three forecasts for the sector

  • The uptake in Agri-Tech will gain much pace as we move forward in the next years, technology cannot solve every issue for labour or efficiency, but it will be a large part of the solution
  • Disruption to the supply chain will continue if we carry on to face pandemics globally – I hope that the food and farming sectors can work together to ensure we can continue to feed the nation at times of disruption
  • Food security will be higher up the agenda in the coming years

June 2020