The group, which represents UK food and drink companies both internationally and to the UK government, issued the warning following the Brexit vote to leave the EU.
FDEA director Elsa Fairbanks said: “It is very early days in terms of the outcome of any deals and the focus at this point needs to be maintaining customer confidence around the world and avoid any consumer backlash to British products in Europe.”
She said the organisation is working closely with the food and drink exporting community and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Great British Food Unit to help identify any queries and problems.
The FDEA is offering as much reassurance as possible to international customers, many of whom are concerned about the impact of Brexit.
“So far specific concerns that have arisen are not in the EU, but in markets like Canada and Australia where certain products are subject to EU trade details and quotas and what the impact of a British exit may have on these arrangements,” she said.
However, it was not all negative as she said the organisation was “excited” about the possibility of new trade deals with countries outside the EU.
“Our key concern is maintaining access to the single market as Europe remains our biggest single export market,” she added.
The FDEA said that exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU fell by 1.3% in 2015 largely due to currency issues. Non-EU markets, it said, currently buy 30.8% of the UK’s total branded food and non-alcoholic drink exports.
Value of exports up
“The value of exports to non-EU markets was up 6.4% on 2014 figures, with double-digit growth seen in Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia,” she said.
“However, it will be a major challenge to make-up any shortfall in lost EU sales if access to the single market is restricted.
“For the last 15 years, exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks have been growing. What we now need are policies and trade deals that will encourage more food companies to seize the export opportunities with energy and enthusiasm.”