Record export values for UK food and drink, worth £12bn in H1

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Cheese was the UK's top export in terms of value during the first half of 2023. Credit: Getty / Danielle Wood
Cheese was the UK's top export in terms of value during the first half of 2023. Credit: Getty / Danielle Wood

Related tags Trade

The UK food and drink manufacturing sector posted record export values for the first half of 2023.

According to data published by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), UK food and drink exports were worth £12bn during H1, up from £11.5bn for the same period last year.

The FDF Trade Snapshot, published bi-annually, found that much of this growth had been driven by EU member states. Export values to the EU increased by more than 7% year-on-year at a value of £6.9bn.

A rise in export values was seen across most categories, but volumes have been impacted by challenges including labour shortages, rising wages and energy bill hikes. This has resulted in higher food prices, which in part explains the higher export values.

Based on the FDF data, cheese was the UK’s top export during the first half of this year valued at nearly £400m. This marginally beat out chocolate, which recorded sales worth £386m.

Salmon and breakfast cereals are also popular exports, and both posted values of above £350m.

While more than half of the UK’s total export value was driven by sales to the EU, exports to non-EU markets actually fell in value by 1.2% year-on-year.

Food and drink sector is 'resilient'

FDF head of international trade Dominic Goudie said that the findings were evidence of the food and drink manufacturing industry’s “resilience​” and potential to grow in the future.

Trade in UK food and drink is beginning to stabilise after the challenges of Brexit, a global pandemic, and global weather events in recent years, that led to significant supply chain disruption, surging energy prices and volatile ingredient costs​,” he added.

Nonetheless, Goudie called on the Government to work closely with the sector in a bid to prevent further volume declines, which could start to impact values as inflation falls.

We urge the government to take note of our Trade and Investment Strategy, which details how Ministers can put food and drink at the heart of global Britain’s new independent trade policy​,” Goudie continued.

Defra bolstering its network of in-market trade attachés and the Food and Drink Export Council are positive steps that will support future growth​.”

In other news, food and drink businesses showcased new products in Parliament this September as part of an FDF innovation event​.

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