The UK’s food and drink exports have reached £16.4 billion for the first nine months of 2019, up 1.8% on the same period last year, according to analysis from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
The food and drink trade deficit narrowed by 1.3% and it now stands at -£18 billion, which is £243 million lower than the same period in 2017.
Export growth to EU markets (+4.1%) was positive, while exports to non-EU markets declined (-1.8%), with the EU exports share growing to 62.1%.
All of the top 10 export products reported growth in January to September, apart from beer and salmon.
The fall in exports of salmon – down 20.1% – is primarily a result in a fall in sales to France (-19%) and the US (-36.2%). In volume terms, this represents a decline of 16.6 thousand tonnes, which is equivalent to £94.3 million.
“Despite the tumultuous times, UK food and drink exports continue to grow,” said FDF Chief Executive Ian Wright.
“These results record a very creditable performance across many product categories and destination markets. However, it is clear that businesses must work ever harder to deliver. Access to high quality market insight, advice and practical support is increasingly vital for success.
“That’s why the FDF is seeking collaboration with DEFRA, BEIS and DIT. We believe that together we can deliver ambitious new methods of export support which will give us the tools to take on our rivals in the highly competitive global food marketplace.”
Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Graham Stuart, said:
“UK food and drink is highly-regarded across the world, and I’m delighted that these latest figures from the Food and Drink Federation show such a positive increase in exports. It’s testament to the dedication and commitment to quality of UK businesses.
“We recently launched a new UK Export Strategy to clearly set out government support for businesses as we look to increase exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%.
“I would encourage all companies to make the most of this offer which includes finance through UK Export Finance, peer-to-peer support from our network of Export Champions and a wealth of resources on GREAT.gov.uk.”
Elsa Fairbanks, Director, Food & Drink Exports Association (FDEA), said: “The FDEA has received positive feedback from members in our recent 2018 Export Survey – exporters of all sizes from around the UK. Most respondents report continued export growth both in EU and non-EU markets although in the main this comes from more “established” markets.
“As the reality of the changing trading environment emerges, there is concern that sales may start to fall in the EU after Brexit and many exporters are exploring opportunities in new areas further afield. In light of this, we fully endorse the need for practical help and support to ensure that companies are prepared for what lies ahead.”