UK export success due to unique global position

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

The UK's position gives it a competitive advantage in the food and drink export market
The UK's position gives it a competitive advantage in the food and drink export market

Related tags International trade

The latest food and drink export figures reveal UK manufacturers’ ability to take advantage of our unique global position, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Export statistics were 13% up at £5.8bn in the first half of this year. An FDF spokeswoman told “Our view is that there are growth opportunities in all of the food and drink sectors because UK manufacturers have a comparative advantage at producing some of the best food and drink products in the world.”

Rising exports

Rising exports also reflected a combination of rising interest in western, and specifically UK tastes, a growing global middle class and a competitive position on commodities, exchange rates and skills and capabilities, she said.

Processed foods made up 87% of the export figures, with sectors such as dairy, meat and non-alcoholic drinks all performing strongly.

The growth in exports to the EU was particularly impressive, up 12.6% to £4.4bn. This was due to Ireland’s economic recovery being stronger than expected as well as cheaper UK prices on commodities compared with the EU, she said.

Outside the EU, a growth in the global middle class increased demand for high-quality processed foods by 22.8%. Strong performances by Poland, (up 83.2%); China (up 52.5%); and Saudi Arabia (up 34.9%) all contributed to growth.

Demand for UK exports has grown in former colonies such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Export destinations which showed particular promise for UK food and drink manufacturers included: Asia, parts of Africa, South America and Eastern Europe, said the spokeswoman.

Strong growth was also likely in more mature markets such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Losing out

But the UK would risk losing out to foreign competitors unless it focused on developing the potential of emerging countries. “Other EU countries are managing to grow in key emerging markets such as China more quickly than UK manufacturers, particularly in the export of final products,” ​she said.

The FDF is currently working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the UK Trade and Investment to address issues in terms of whether our food and drink manufacturers are receiving adequate export support.”

Also under scrutiny were the impact of tariff and non-tariff barriers associated with emerging markets, she added.

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