The value of UK food and drinks exports grew to £5.9 billion in the third-quarter of 2017, an increase of 14.7% on 2016.
Released by The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the positive results build on the record-breaking first-half of the year for the industry. For the first nine months of the year, UK food and drink exports were worth £16.1 billion, up 11%.
Despite the growth, the UK’s food and drink trade deficit increased by 0.7% to -£5.6 billion in third quarter as the country’s trade deficit with EU countries widened.
The balance between exports to non-EU and EU markets shifted slightly in the third quarter, with growth to non-EU markets (+18.2%) out-performing EU markets (+12.5%). There has been notably rapid growth in the sector’s exports to the Philippines (+289.1%), Latvia (+116.1%), and Iceland (+73.2%).
The surge in growth to the Philippines was led by higher demand for pork (85%), whisky (277%), cheese (1608%) and salmon (226%), while exports to Latvia more than doubled from £60 million to £129 million, driven by sales of whisky (131%), wine (239%), gin (86%) and fish fillets (125%).
From January to September, Ireland, France and the US remained the top three destinations for UK food and drink in terms of overall value.
The US remains the UK’s top non-EU market for exports of food and drink, reaching £1.6 billion, up 7.7%. Growth was reported in all top 20 markets during that time period, apart from Spain, which saw a 7.1% decrease due to reduced sales of barley and wheat (-78%).
FDF director general Ian Wright said: “The continued growth of food and drink exports demonstrates the strength of UK production in international markets. UK food and drink is recognised throughout the world for its quality and we must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities created from leaving the EU.
“Exports to non-EU markets did outperform those to EU markets in the last quarter but the EU remains our number one trading partner. With fewer than one in five food and drink manufacturers exporting, it is vital that we continue to work closely with government in order to take advantage of the opportunities to sell Great British and Northern Irish food and drink abroad.”
Director of the Food & Drink Exports Association Elsa Fairbanks added: “FDEA members continue to be very positive about their sales to international markets. It is particularly encouraging at this time of change that exports continue to grow in our top EU markets and that markets like South Korea and China are gaining traction.
“Our challenge is to ensure that new exporters have the confidence to develop markets closer to home and the skills and knowledge to explore the important but often complex markets further afield. The FDEA team is committed to helping food and drink exporters identify the most appropriate markets for their products and to exploit the commercial opportunities for British food and drink across the globe.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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