UK’s food & drink exports bypass EU to reach £6.2bn in third quarter

UK’s food & drink exports bypass EU to reach £6.2bn in third quarter
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Growth to non-EU countries has helped increase the UK’s third quarter food and drinks exports to £6.2 billion, a new report reveals.

The report, from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), shows that there was an increase of 13.1% in export value growth to non-EU countries – over double that of exports to the EU.

During the first nine months of the year, all the UK’s highest value exported products have grown – with whisky, salmon, wine, gin, and pork increasing by over 10% on the same period last year. Salmon, beef and gin have also seen volume growth above 10%.

Sales of branded goods to the EU have declined (-3.2%) in Q3 and over the first nine months of the year (-2.1%), which has not been helped by ongoing uncertainty around the terms of the future UK-EU trading relationship.

When looking at the UK’s top markets for branded goods, most of those within the EU have declined over the year-to-date, which reinforces anecdotal evidence that key buyers are starting to look elsewhere due to current uncertainty in the UK.

Outside of the EU, food and drink exports to the UK’s seventh largest trading partner, China, have seen a significant increase since Q3 2018, rising by £64.6 million. This is the largest value increase in over two decades.

Approximately 17% of UK food and drink exports to China were branded products. Among these, the fastest growing product is prepared foods for infants. Top UK products sold in China included meat (131.2%), fish and seafood (3.6%) and spirits (35.5%) in the first nine months of the year.

“This is the fourth consecutive year of food and drink export growth in Q3,” said FDF President Gavin Darby.

“While the overall value of UK exports across all industries has declined year-to-date, food and drink has shown great resilience to buck that trend, delivering growth of 6.3% on 2018 already.

“Although sales of branded goods to the EU have declined, encouragingly our sales to non-EU countries has increased by over 9% so far in 2019. At the same time, there remains significant untapped growth potential for UK food and drink exports.

“If we are to build on recent successes, the next Government must ensure we have a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink which recognises our industry’s unique ability to deliver jobs and growth in every UK community.

“They should also co-invest in the FDF’s proposals for a genuinely business-led approach to specialist exports support.”