Exports reach record £10.2bn as EU sales jump

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Export sales reached a record £10.2bn in the first six months of 2017
Export sales reached a record £10.2bn in the first six months of 2017

Related tags Drink exports European union International trade

UK food and drink exports reached a record-high of £10.2bn in the first half of this year, as exports to EU countries topped £6bn for the first time.

The value of food and drink exports increased 8.5% in the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period last year, according to Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMCE) data.

Stronger export growth to EU countries was recorded than to non-EU countries, as the value of EU exports reached £6.3bn. But, it was still unclear whether the UK would gain access to tariff-free trade with the EU after Brexit.

The Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF)’s director general Ian Wright said: “It is great to see such strong growth in our exports to EU Member States. The EU remains an essential market for UK exports as well as for supplies of key ingredients and raw materials used by our industry.

‘Significant opportunities’

“We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our sector’s exports further still. The continuing weakness of sterling is a concern. However, we hope that with the determination of businesses and the assistance of government, we can open more channels and provide a further boost to the UK’s competitiveness on the world market.”

Ireland, France and the US remained the UK’s top three export destinations, the HMCE data revealed (see map below). But, the country with the greatest export value growth was South Korea, after it gained a taste for British beer, the FDF said.

Whisky remained the UK’s most valuable exported product, with £1.82bn in sales over the six months. Salmon exports totalled £408M, while beer sales reached £313M and chocolate sales hit £299M.

Top 10 food and drink exports

  • Whisky
  • Salmon
  • Beer
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Wine
  • Gin
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Soft drinks

Boost overseas sales

The government would continue to work with the food and drinks sector to boost overseas sales, said food minister George Eustice.

“These encouraging figures show that the UK’s high quality foods and high standards are sought after around the world,”​ said Eustice. “We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time.

“Last week we announced further market access to China for pork producers and UK beef will soon be heading to the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture Group has teamed up with sister William Reed manufacturing titles British Baker and Meat Trades Journal to stage a one-day conference dedicated boosting food and drink exports at Ardencote Manor on Thursday October 5. Read more details in the box below.

Food Xport conference

The Food Xport Conference on Thursday October 5 at Ardencote Manor, Warwickshire, will arm delegates with latest advice needed to unlock the potential of global export markets. The day comprises four sessions that will cover: Identifying your potential for growth, How to organise your UK business to drive exports, World Trade Organisation Rules and What can be learned from food and drink manufacturers trading profitably overseas. Confirmed speakers include: Ed Wright, export director, Cranswick and Richard Clothier, md Wyke Farms.

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