How Britain can become an exporting leader

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

How Britain can become an exporting leader
Whilst the UK saw food and drink exports reaching record highs in 2022 at £24.8bn, we have since seen a 2% decline. In an exclusive online session on 26 June, Food Manufacture will be hearing from several experts on how the nation can reverse the trend and become an exporting champion.

In 2023, exports fell to £24.3bn, with non-EU markets struggling to mirror the pace of previous years.

The volume of most food and drink categories dropped, with just pork and cheese experiencing value and volume growth.

Whether you voted to remain or leave the EU, becoming an independent trading nation does present opportunities. But it’s evident that the UK needs to reinvigorate its export strategy to reverse the downward trend and reap the rewards.

Register for ‘Can Britain become an exporting superpower’​ taking place on 26 June at 11am (UK time).

Exporting: Why bother?

Whilst we may have once had a ‘safe’ testbed for those wishing to dip their toe into the waters of export in our free trade agreement with the EU, things have since become more complicated.

From the restrictions of red tape to the endless menu of possible destinations, exporting can seem like a headache that you’d rather avoid. But the pay off for successful exporting can be immense.

For example, research by Capital Economics for UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK’s export credit agency, shows that companies with only domestic customers grow less than those that export abroad. Moreover, businesses trading overseas actually experience higher productivity and are more likely to innovate, with 66% of UK exporters saying that exporting led them to fresh ideas.

When: ​26 June 2024, 11am (UK time)

Where: ​Register online at Food Manufacture​ 

Panel: ​Katie Doherty, IMTA; Nagma Ebanks Beni, Prima Cheese; Ian Wright, UK Food and Drink Council; Nicola Thomas, Food & Drink Exporters Association

Chair: ​Bethan Grylls, Food Manufacture

But with everything being so darn complicated, where do businesses new to exporting even start and why and how should those on the ladder look to add another rung?

Getting Britain back on track

In our next editorial webinar, we’ll be looking at not just the benefits of tapping into international markets, but the considerations and challenges that aspiring exporters should be taking note of before they make the leap.

In two exclusive presentations for Food Manufacture, Nicola Thomas, director of the UK FDEA, and Katie Doherty, CEO of the IMTA, will highlight the benefits to exporting, alongside the areas businesses will want to address or may find challenging.

“On the face of it, 2024 may not seem an ideal time to be trading internationally thanks to economic pressures, conflicts, elections, logistical challenges, Brexit fallout, China not the global growth engine it has been predicted to be,”​ Thomas commented. “But I’ll be shining a light on why now is in fact a good time to start exporting or selling more in international markets…and why you may be missing out on fundamental opportunities and putting your business at risk if you only focus on domestic sales.”

Doherty, who will be focusing on veterinary market access and the current trading landscape between our closest trading partner (the EU) in her segment, added: “Exporting has its challenges, but for those who do their research it can be an important part of their trading operation and is certainly crucial for our sector owing to carcass balance.”

A third presentation will follow, delivered by the UK Food and Drink Export Council’s (FDEC) co-chair Ian Wright, as he walks us through the council’s recommendations braced for summer publication.

Wright will also look to flag the areas of opportunities for UK exporters, such as the potential a free trade agreement could have with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – expected to increase overall trade by at least 16% – and recently agreed Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Food Manufacture will also be joined by Nagma Ebanks Beni, Prima Cheese’s co-CEO. Since establishing its export department in 2011, the cheese business has expanded its reach across Europe, the Middle East, South America, Far East and Asia.

“Right now UK food producers are having to grapple with many commercial and economic barriers. In the upcoming webinar, I’ll be relaying an honest overview of our own experiences as an exporter,”​ explained Beni. “It’s not always glossy and there are a lot of considerations - a lot of unnecessary bureaucracy (post-Brexit) which has damaged international confidence in trading with the UK, but there are also a lot of benefits in seizing international opportunity.”

What you’ll learn

Within this session, you can expect to:

  • Understand why now is a good time is to export
  • How to leverage the power of the ‘made in Britain brand’
  • Understand the challenges that the industry currently faces around red tape
  • Identify the opportunities that lie ahead and the support available for first-time and expanding exporters
  • Hear an exclusive update from the UK Food and Drink Export Council and its progress and recommendations

“If you’re a business considering exporting or new to exporting, this session will offer tangible advice, recommendations and expert guidance on how to gain and access information and support,”​ concluded Beni.

To be part of the discussion and hear from the expert panel, register for free, here.

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