UK food and drink exports reached a record-high of £10.2bn in the first half of 2017 which meant an 8.5% increase compared with the same period last year.
Higher export growth was recorder to EU countries than non-EU countries with the total value of EU exports reaching £6.3bn. Ireland, France and the US remained the UK’s top three export destinations for food and drink. But the country with the greatest export value growth was South Korea.
The FDF’s director general Ian Wright said: “It is great to see such strong growth in our exports to EU Member States. The EU remains an essential market for UK exports as well as for supplies of key ingredients and raw materials used by our industry”.
The exports were helped by the fall in the pound but the Foods and Drink Federation warns that without a favourable Brexit trade deal, British exports could become less competitive. If there is no deal and World Trade Organization tariffs with the EU are brought in, “food and drink would face significantly higher tariffs than most other products”, an FDF spokesman said. Goods “could face lengthy delays at border for checks and inspections that would add delays and cost to products, particularly those with short shelf lives”.
In the first six months of this year whisky remained the UK’s most valuable exported product (£1.82bn), followed by salmon (£408M), beer (£313M) and chocolate (£299M).
However while the exports of salmon rose by 24%, whisky exports actually fell 1% by volume and beer exports fell by 2.2%.
The government would continue to work with the food and drink sector to boost overseas sales, said food minister George Eustice. Further market access to China for UK pork producers and Philippines for UK beef was announced last week.