Whisky remains top UK export

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

UK food and drink exports have risen over the past year
UK food and drink exports have risen over the past year
Whisky and chocolate continue to top the UK’s food and drink export lists, new research has found.

According to Food & Drink Federation (FDF) analysis, UK food and drink exports increased by 1.8% to £16.4bn from January to September 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. Exports of branded goods also grew by £35.2m to £4.3bn, up 0.8%.

All of the top 10 export products reported growth in January to September, apart from beer and salmon. The fall in exports of salmon, down 20.1%, is primarily the result of a fall in sales to France (-19%) and the US (-36.2%). In volume terms, this represents a decline of 16,600 tonnes, which is equivalent to £94.3m.

Regional focus

The FDF also completed a regional comparison of exports and found that England had shown growth of just 6.2%, compared to the increase of 9.2% seen in Wales. Within England, East Midlands and North East of England recorded the slowest growth rate for food and drink exports between 2015-2017, rising by just 2.6% and 0.8% respectively. These rates are much lower than leading export regions, with the South East showing growth of 8.4% and London 7.2% during the same period.

Ian Wright, chief executive of the FDF, said: “Despite the tumultuous times, UK food and drink exports continue to grow. These results record a very creditable performance across many product categories and destination markets. However, it is clear that businesses must work ever harder to deliver. Access to high-quality market insight, advice and practical support is increasingly vital for success. That’s why the FDF is seeking collaboration with DEFRA ​[Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs], BEIS​ [Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy] and DIT ​[Department of International Trade]. We believe that, together, we can deliver ambitious new methods of export support, which will give us the tools to take on our rivals in the highly competitive global food marketplace.”

Elsa Fairbanks, director of the Food & Drink Exports Association (FDEA), added: “The FDEA has received positive feedback from members in our recent 2018 Export Survey – exporters of all sizes from around the UK. Most respondents report continued export growth both in EU and non-EU markets, although in the main this comes from more ‘established’ markets. As the reality of the changing trading environment emerges, there is concern that sales may start to fall in the EU after Brexit and many exporters are exploring opportunities in new areas further afield. In light of this, we fully endorse the need for practical help and support to ensure that companies are prepared for what lies ahead.” 

Top 10 Products exported by UK food and drink businesses









Breakfast cereals

Soft drinks

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