The Food and Drink Federation has reported that UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports have continued to grow in 2014, rising to £6.5bn in the first six months of the year – an increase of 4.8% on the same period in 2013.
Exports performed well in both non-EU markets (+12%) and in the EU (+2.5%), despite pressures such as stronger sterling and falling EU GDP working against British exporters.
FDF’s latest update also found that the food and non-alcoholic drink trade balance improved by 4.9% to a deficit of £12bn – a welcome news in contrast to the trade balance for all UK products worsening by 84% in the first half of 2014. Including alcoholic drinks, total food and drink exports were down 0.5% on 2013, largely due to a rare decline in whisky exports as growth slowed in Asia and other leading markets.
Ireland and France remain the UK’s biggest food and drink export markets by value. By value gained however, Algeria shot into second place as exports of skimmed milk powder (+£37m) and cereals (+13m) drove a +429% increase in sales to the market.
Value added products performed well in both the EU (+4.7%) and non-EU (+10.2%) and the top five best performing value added products generated export gains of £208m.
To help boost international trade, FDF and Open to Export have launched Food & Drink Export Month on opentoexport.com. A joint initiative between Open to Export, Government and industry, the Food and Drink Export Month runs from 15 September – 10 October and features free-of-charge live webinars, guides and case studies, designed to help small and medium-sized food and drink companies grow their exports business.
FDF’s Economic and Commercial Services Director, Steve Barnes, says: “Against a backdrop of challenging conditions in food retail in the UK and overall goods exports falling, food and non-alcoholic drink exports continue to grow well and individual products to certain markets are experiencing rapid growth.
“Our brands have been working hard to develop new opportunities in international markets and to help businesses boost exports further we have been working with Government and others to introduce a raft of new resources and expert advice on opentoexport.com this autumn.”