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Non-EU food exports seeing healthy growth

28 November 2016

Exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 13.7% in the third-quarter of 2016, according to new figures from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) – with sales to non EU markets seeing twice the rate of sales compared to those into the EU. 

Despite this, the EU still remains the top destination for branded exports, buying two-thirds of the total. The overall value of UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports rose to £3.4bn in Q3, up 12.1% on the same period in 2015. Latest year-to-date figures now show impressive double-digit growth with total exports of £10.1bn during the first three-quarters of 2016.

According to the FDF, the weaker pound since late 2015 and sharp falls seen post-referendum mean that UK exports have become increasingly competitive and it is hoping for a further upswing in exports in the coming months. The three export markets which saw the greatest value growth in the year-to-date were Spain, up £158m, China, up £124m and Germany, up £60m. Ireland, France and the Netherlands remain the top three destinations for branded UK food and non-alcoholic drink, buying 42% of total exports.

The top three product categories were chocolate, salmon and cheese, with exports of wheat experiencing the largest value growth, up £147.4m (+80.0%) year-to-date 2016, when compared with 2015. In October, Defra published a new International Action Plan for Food and Drink that sets out how government and the industry will work to create opportunities and increase capability for UK exporters over the next five years. This includes nine priority campaigns across 18 countries targeting additional exports worth £2.9bn.

The plan is a key strand of the Government’s Great British Food campaign, which was introduced to celebrate the UK’S food and drink industry, drive growth and jobs in the sector, and establish Britain’s reputation as a great food nation.

Ian Wright CBE, Director General, FDF, said: “The growth of food and non-alcoholic drink exports we've seen in Q3 is very encouraging news for our industry. It is also a positive step towards highlighting the excellence of UK food and drink to the world. It is very pleasing to see non-EU exports performing beyond expectations, with UK firms taking advantage of increased competitiveness following the currency changes since the summer.

“As the UK leaves the European Union a growth in exports is hugely important to our sector. We hope that with the determination of businesses, and the assistance of the Government’s International Action Plan for Food and Drink, we can open more channels and provide support to new and existing food and drink exporters as they seek new markets overseas.”

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