As with various other sectors, accurately capturing the contribution of agritech as a discrete grouping of activity is very difficult. This is especially challenging with an emerging sector like agritech (see ‘Understanding Industries & Sectors’). In 2015, the UK Government commissioned a comprehensive study into the economic contribution of the agritech sector. Using the latest available data from 2013, it found the sector contributed £14.3 billion to UK GVA and employed over half a million people, and grew by 16% between 2008 and 2013. A more sophisticated methodology was used to accurately capture the proportional contribution of various different activities in that study, something which could not be replicated here. However, the data presented here still provides a useful indication of size of the agritech sector in Somerset.
One crucial difference between the definition used here and the one used in the national study is that ours does not include traditional agriculture, due the intention of capturing the higher value-added elements of the sector. It should be noted that traditional agriculture dominates activity in the wider sector nationally and in proportional terms is an even greater contributor in Somerset. In 2016, agriculture, hunting and related activities contributed £2.69m to the Somerset economy, or 1.3% of total economic output in the county. In proportional terms, this is 2.69 times the contribution it makes nationally. The same activities also account for more than 10,000 jobs, or 4.5% of all employment. Traditional agricultural activities are typically lower value added. Productivity in 2016 was £14,500 (GVA/FTE), compared to £17,700 nationally.
Excluding traditional agriculture, agritech industries contributed £0.58m (GVA) to the Somerset economy in 2016. This equates to 0.6% of total output and 0.58 times the concentration seen at the national level. Given the much greater proportional contribution of traditional agriculture in Somerset (see above) this suggests a potential agritech growth opportunity for the county.
Excluding traditional agriculture, a significant contributor to employment in Somerset (see above), this sector accounted for 1,335 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. In proportional terms, this is 0.65 times as many jobs as contributed nationally. Roughly half of these jobs were in South Somerset and a further quarter in Sedgemoor.
Excluding traditional agriculture, productivity in this sector in 2016 was £53,470 in GVA/FTE terms. This is narrowly higher than average productivity for the county (£50,460). Nationally, productivity for the same activities was 27% higher at £67,870, which means the gap in productivity for this sector is greater than the 14% gap seen in overall productivity between Somerset and national figures.
Source: Economic Model for Somerset and the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership, 2018