Demand for exports of British food and drink continues to grow

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

British exports continue to grow
British exports continue to grow
The demand for British food and drink from overseas is continuing to strengthen with alcohol boosting the sector, according to research from supply chain and data standards organisation GS1 UK.

survey of its members, featured in its report Brits Abroad: UK Food & Drink Exports in 2018​, found that the export of goods had risen by 12% in the year to November 2017, with alcoholic drinks outstripping this broader average with a 16% increase.

It said that with estimates placing total UK food and drink exports around the £22bn mark in 2017, this 12% increase represents approximately £2.6bn of additional transactions.


Exports, the report said, are now a larger proportion of their business than five years ago, accounting for 15% of revenue, up from 11% in 2013.The non-alcohol and beverages sector saw exports make up 22% of its transactions. 

The ongoing Brexit negotiations and uncertainty around potential trade deals had very little impact on exports for these homegrown food and drink businesses, it said.  

Food and drink manufacturers said they expected exports to account for 23% of their business by 2023 – up from 15% currently – and less than a third of those polled were fearful of a decrease in exports to the EU in particular.    

British produce

“British produce remains a byword for excellence around the world and our food and drink is exported to the four corners of the globe,” ​said Gary Lynch, ceo of GS1 UK.

“With official Government figures showing that £22bn of it was sent overseas in 2017, there is clearly a lasting taste for British products and our members have optimistic expectations for the coming years. Whisky and salmon are very much our export staples, but the thirst for our beer and gin also continues to intensify.”

Direct sales, including online transactions, accounted for two-fifths of the average exporter’s sales, but a further 39% was from enlisting the services of in-county agents of distributors.

Almost three-fifths of those surveyed (56%) expected direct sales to account for an even larger percentage of overall export sales in the next five years.

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