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UK food and drink exports see record growth

18 August 2017

The first half of 2017 saw exports of all UK food and drink grow to £10.2bn, up 8.5% on H1 2016, representing the highest first half exports value on record, according to figures published by the FDF.  

The UK's top three export products are whisky, salmon and beer. Contrary to recent export trends, stronger growth was reported to EU countries (+9.0%) than to countries outside the EU (+7.6%). 

Ireland, France and the United States are the top three destinations for UK food and drink in terms of overall value. Positive growth was reported in all top 20 markets, apart from Spain and Japan. Spain saw a 17.6% decrease compared with H1 2016 due to a drop in commodity exports such as wheat and barley, while Japan was marginally down by 2%.
 
The three export markets that saw the greatest percentage growth in value in H1 were South Korea (+77%), China (+35%), and Belgium (+39%). The rapid growth in exports to growing East Asian markets was led by South Korea fast gaining a taste for British beer, and overall exports surged to £156.3m. 

The US is the UK's top non-EU market for exports of branded food and drink, reaching £91.5m in H1 2017, up from £87.8m in 2016. Top UK branded goods sold to the US in H1 included food preparations, bread, pastry, cakes, puddings and sweet biscuits. The US has been identified by the Government as providing significant opportunities for a trade deal post-Brexit. 

While the fall in the price of the pound had helped to boost UK export competitiveness, this currency weakness has also led to an increase in the cost of many essential imported ingredients and raw materials. This has resulted in the UK’s food and drink trade deficit increasing by 16% to -£12.4bn in H1 2017.


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