The worldwide taste for whisky and chocolate help drive UK food exports past pre-pandemic levels
Food, glorious British food and more than a few drams are fueling UK exports around the globe. From cheese to Australia and breakfast cereals to India, food and drink is satisfying international taste buds
UK food exports surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time earlier this year, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said.
Chocolate was the largest category of exported food, with exports valued at £368m – up by 6.1 per cent since 2019 and 12 per cent since last year.
Sales of the product to many non-EU markets, including Saudi Arabia and Canada, grew quickly.
Scotch whisky remained the best performer, with exports growing by over 35 per cent since last year, followed by exports of gin, which rose by over 57 per cent.
The trade body said that overall growth was driven by “soaring” sales to countries including Australia, France and India.
It said sales were strong in countries that have signed trade deals with the UK, or are on the brink of signing such a deal, including the UAE, where sales rose by 30 per cent, and India, with a rise of 81 per cent.
The FDF said India entered its top 20 markets following growth of through strong sales of whisky, gin
and breakfast cereals.
The federation said it hoped that the UK’s ongoing negotiation with India would lead to further export growth, but said a deal needed to be “carefully targeted to address India’s prohibitively high tariffs”.
Export growth was seen in all major product categories to Australia, with savoury snacks up 45 per cent and chocolate up 40 per cent since 2021. Exports to New Zealand increased, with whisky up 35 per cent and malt extract up 56 per cent since 2021. Exports of cheese to Australia were up 90 per cent since 2021 while breakfast cereal exports to New Zealand grew 59 per cent.
The trade body said the EU continues to dominate our imports of food and drink and will remain a key trade partner due to its close geographical proximity, which is essential for short shelf-life ingredients and just-in-time supply chains.
It said opportunities for growth in Europe should not be overlooked and that the priority is still to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement.
The FDF’s head of international trade, Dominic Goudie, said: “It is promising to see exports to EU and non-EU markets top pre-pandemic levels given the exciting opportunities presented by new trade deals with Canada, Australia, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council. These are vital to driving future growth in the UK food and drink sector. “
He said that the sector was showing “resilience in the face of multiple challenges, including the war in Ukraine and sharply rising costs”.
Mr Goudie called for continued government support to help exporters achieve further success. “It is promising to see exports to EU and non-EU markets top pre-pandemic levels given the exciting opportunities presented by new trade deals with Canada, Australia, India, and the Gulf Cooperation Council,” he added.
Food & Drink Exporters Association Director John Whitehead said: “We are pleased to see the continuing growth in exports of food and drink in 2022. British meat and dairy exports are growing well and chocolate exports remain strong reflecting the continuing demand for quality British confectionery.”