Food & Drink is closely followed by transport (14.9%) and pharmaceuticals and chemicals (14.2%) which are often perceived as the biggest sectors of UK manufacturing.
Broken down by sector the export picture is dominated by Transport (25.5%) and Pharmaceuticals & Chemicals (17.9%) which highlight the importance of these high value added sectors to the success of UK industry overall, the aerospace and automotive sectors in particular.
The importance of the top two dominant exporting sectors is also reflected in contributions to business R&D where pharmaceuticals and chemicals and the transport sector accounted for almost 70% of the total spend between them. For more analysis of the food industry's approach to R&D, download Food Manufacture's R&D Market Report, published earlier this month.
The transport sector also led the way in export growth increasing by 7.4%, largely on the back of continued growth in aerospace, closely followed by the food and drink sector which increased exports by 5.3%.
Seamus Nevin, chief economist at Make UK, said: “Food and drink continues to be a vital contributor to UK manufacturing, not just for domestic consumption but also in the drive to boost the UK’s export performance at a time when global trade is becoming more important.
“Whilst the US remains the biggest market and presents significant opportunities for export growth, it is a fallacy to believe that geography is not the biggest factor driving trade. For UK food and drink manufacturers access to the EU market must be a premium.
“The figures also provide an important reminder that we’re still one of the top ten biggest manufacturing nations and we want to see policy makers working with industry to help move UK manufacturing up the rankings.”