The European Union’s drinks industry is one of the continent’s key earners according to a report from EU statistical agency Eurostat, which says its productivity is much higher than that of the food processing sector.

The top performing country in the latest pan-EU figures available (1999) in the drinks industry was France, at €103,700 generated in terms of value added by the sector per person in employment. Meanwhile, for the meat industry the best performer was Denmark, at €46,100 generated per person; for dairy industry, it was Germany at €61,000 per person; and other food industries, the UK at €50,800.

The productivity of the beverages industry in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Britain all outranked the top performers in the various food production sub-sectors.

Particularly strong performers were the UK, at €99,500 per person generated, Denmark at €95,100, Belgium at €80,400 and Finland at €78,200. Germany’s added value productivity per person was €71,300.

The poorest performers were Portugal at €44,200, Greece at €60,100 and Austria at €64,000.

The figures come in a paper on strengths and weaknesses in business in the EU. It said that the beverage and food processing industry is the most important national manufacturing sector (in 1999) in Britain, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Netherlands and Portugal. Eurostat says that statistically, these two combined sectors are the third most important in the EU, behind chemicals plus machinery and equipment manufacture.