Food from Britain (FFB), the government supported international food and drink marketing consultancy, which helps and encourages UK food and drink companies to market and sell their products internationally, has published its latest Annual Report and Accounts.

Over the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, Food from Britain has continued to show its commitment to British food and drink exports by developing its services to meet UK companies' requirements despite a backdrop of challenging trading conditions. For the year ending March 2000, Food from Britain attracted an income totalling £6.1 million from industry in addition to £5.4 million of government funding. However, due to the strength of sterling and the weak Euro, in seven of the twelve markets where FFB international offices are located, the difficulties facing exporters have inevitably hit the income of Food from Britain too.

Food from Britain's Chairman, Gordon Summerfield comments, "Food from Britain's success is closely allied to the success of UK food and drink exporters. The tough exporting conditions that have hit our exporters have also had a knock on effect on our international consultancy income. Unfortunately this downturn in exports is set to continue for the foreseeable future and it is those that adapt to the changing exporting conditions who will come out the strongest. However, I remain encouraged by the commitment and determination of UK food and drink exporters and can only urge manufacturers to continue to demonstrate their enviable skills of product innovation, quality and value and take advantage of the enormous opportunities in export markets.

Food from Britain announced only recently that total UK food and drink exports of £8.8 billion for 1999 were down 5% against 1998, despite a flourish of sales in the last quarter. In Europe exports were 6% down, a creditable performance against a 14% drop in the value of the Euro. There was, however, solid growth to North America (+9%) and Asia/Oceania (+14%) where Japan remains the most important market with UK food and drink exports worth £223 million.

Even under these uncertain exporting conditions, the recently appointed chief executive, David McNair highlighted some of Food from Britain's key achievements of the year:
  • Continued development of high quality services in key export markets to both new and developing food and drink exporters, including an increasing number seeking international partnerships and acquisitions.

  • Attendance of over 330 British companies at events in Food from Britain's annual programme.

  • Introduction of a client development scheme to help companies embark on the major step of exporting or to develop a suitable market entry strategy.

  • The launch of an e-commerce site www.speciality-foods.com to enable British speciality producers to develop business on the Internet.

  • Successful major UK-wide sourcing initiatives with major retailers in Europe and Japan and the extension of existing regional sourcing activities with UK retailers as a result of Food from Britain's national trade development role with the regional groups.
"Companies that work with Food from Britain continue to show great determination in developing and securing business, both nationally and internationally, despite tough trading conditions. Like our clients, Food from Britain has the strength and vision to be receptive and responsive to challenges and will continue to support industry with a full range of quality services available from its London office and network of FFB international offices."