Aldi has announced plans to increase the amount of food and drink it buys from British suppliers by £3.5 billion a year within the next five years as it continues its rapid expansion across the UK.

The company is also investing £500 million in new and upgraded stores, distribution centres and its supply chain in 2021, which will create over 4,000 jobs as well as new opportunities for British food and drink producers.

A National Farmers' Union (NFU) spokesperson said: "It’s positive news that Aldi is making further commitments to invest in the UK supply chain, a pledge which will help British food and farming businesses to grow.

"Aldi is already a big supporter of British agriculture, spending over £8 billion with British suppliers in 2019 and sourcing core ranges of fresh meat, milk and eggs from Britain."

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer at Aldi UK, said:

"We are expecting significant sales growth in 2021 as we open new stores and bring Aldi to more locations across the UK.

With the vast majority of our grocery products now coming from British suppliers, our growth will lead to additional jobs and investment in our UK supply chain.

Aldi has also confirmed that the immediate payment terms for small suppliers it introduced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic will be extended until the end of 2021.

This means that the supermarket will continue to process payments for suppliers with an annual turnover of less than £1 million with Aldi as soon as they are submitted, benefitting more than 1,000 small British businesses in the supermarket’s supply chain.