A new report has highlighted the essential role played by the UK’s food and drink wholesalers who supply and support more than 400,000 businesses including 72,000 retail grocery stores.

The Whole Story: Wholesale Distribution, The High Street, Consumers and the National Economy was launched by Defra minister George Eustice at a House of Commons reception earlier this week.

The wholesale industry turns over annual revenues of £30bn and generates £2.8bn of gross value added annually, with about £460m in taxation paid to the exchequer each year, the report states.

Report author Capital Economics estimates that there are about 540,000 retail jobs and 350,000 foodservice/catering jobs in businesses that are supplied with goods provided by food and drink wholesalers.

FWD chief executive James Bielby said the report demonstrated the scale of the sector, which has been “under-appreciated” by policymakers compared with the national supermarket and restaurant chains.

“Our members make an essential contribution to the success of those small businesses which are the lifeblood of the UK economy. In a retail and catering sector where the largest players have historically had the loudest voice, this report redresses the imbalance by demonstrating the enormous value of wholesale distributors and their supply chain partners in improving consumer choice.”