Trade with non-EU countries soar above pre-pandemic levels

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Exports hit pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2022
Exports hit pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2022

Related tags: Supply chain

Exports and imports of food and drink with non-EU countries have soared above pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The FDF’s Trade Snapshot examines the latest developments in the UK’s exports and imports of food and drink in the first quarter of 2022. 

Its report found that food and drink imports have recovered and are over 13% higher than in 2019, while exports to major markets including the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and the UAE exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

It also said that Canada is a key source of ingredients used by UK manufacturers and the UK saw imports rise 5% while exports to the country saw particularly strong growth, up 26% on pre-pandemic levels.

Exports to India up

Exports to India are up more than 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and they remain a large import partner – particularly for agricultural goods – accounting for £172.5m.

The FDF said that it expects further growth in food and drink exports with the UK-Japan trade agreement coming into force in 2021, and others on the horizon including Australia and New Zealand. The trade association also said that it expects both Canada and India, which are currently in negotiations with the UK Government over free trade deals, to represent major export opportunities.

FDF have highlighted that it should be a priority to secure improved market access for UK exporters of cheese to Canada. In India demand is booming in the country in the health, organic, fortified and ready-to-eat packaged food sector.

However, the FDF did highlight that despite this success a key priority remains improving the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement. 

It also said that “one unknown”​ remains the impact of the war in Ukraine, with energy prices rises and supplies of certain key ingredients – including vegetable oils, cereals and white fish – being strained.

Strong growth

FDF head of international trade Dominic Goudie said: “Trade plays a key role in boosting the UK economy, with high exports ensuring food and drink companies can thrive and imports offering shoppers in the UK a wide range of quality products at prices they can afford.

“This is particularly important now, at a time of soaring costs to businesses and consumers, that the UK utilises trade as deflationary weapon.”

Food & Drink Exporters Association director Nicola Thomas said: “Such strong growth highlights how with widespread economic and political instability around the world, a renewed focus on exporting is a crucial risk-mitigation strategy for UK Food and Drink companies in 2022.
“Having a sales portfolio spanning multiple global markets not only makes a business potentially less vulnerable to changes in the UK economy, but any losses caused by a crisis or stagnation in one country or region also stand a much better chance of being balanced out by a presence in others.

 

Related topics: Supply Chain, Brexit

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