According to market development consultancy Food From Britain (FFB), this year exports of food from the UK are set to break the GBP10bn (US$18.8bn) mark for the first time since 1996.
FFB said that there was more to this increase than the resumption of beef exports. Exports of beef for the first half of this year totalled GBP23m but when UK exports last exceeded GBP10bn beef exports accounted for GBP600m, indicating increased export activity in other sectors.
Food and drink exports between January and June totalled GBP4.8bn, up 3.4% over the comparable period of last year.
Exports of value added products grew by 6.4% in the half to reach GBP1.6bn. Exports of bread, pastry and cakes were particularly strong, rising nearly 8% to GBP223m. Chocolate confectionery accounted for GBP124m in exports while cheese exports totalled GBP109m, with both sectors being up by over 5%.
“This year’s figures mark an encouraging time for Britain’s food and drink exporters,” said David McNair, chief executive of Food from Britain. “Having experienced positive export figures for the past six years I am confident in saying that we have reached a sustained period of growth. What is particularly exciting about the strength of the market at present is that it has been achieved largely without the contribution of red meat – traditionally a stalwart of Britain’s food exports. As meat exports continue to recover we will no doubt see further record-breaking performances.”
Sales to the UK’s top three export markets – Ireland, France and the USA – have continued to grow, climbing 9%, 10% and 6% respectively. Meanwhile sales to the Netherlands were encouraging, increasing by 20%. Exports to the EU as a whole reached GBP3.1bn, an increase of 2.7%, while non-EU markets were up 4.8%.