In this report:

Key Indicators

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Source of Data: Her Majesty's Customs & Excise

Executive summary

  • H1 2018 exports of all food and drink hit £10.68bn, up 5.1% on 2017, led by growth to the EU27.
  • Growth in exports to EU countries (+7.3%) outpaced those to non-EU countries (+1.6%).
  • The top five markets made up over half (52%) of overall food and drink exports, with exports to Ireland alone holding a share of 18.4%.
  • H1 2018 exports of branded goods rose by 4.6% overall, despite a fall in exports to non-EU markets which was due to negative growth in sales of animal feed and sweet biscuits.
  • The fastest growing UK products by value within the top 10 were breakfast cereals, gin and beef.
  • Over the past 10 years, from H1 2008 to H1 2018, food and drink exports have grown by 75%, with an average annual growth rate of 5.2%. Over the same period, exports to non-EU countries grew faster (108%) than to EU countries (60%).

Branded goods

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Source of Data: Her Majesty's Customs & Excise
*non-alcoholic drinks

Top 10 products

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Source of Data: Her Majesty's Customs & Excise

Top 20 markets

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Source of Data: Her Majesty's Customs & Excise

UK food and drink exports 1997 - 2017

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Singapore and Australia the fastest growth markets

  • UK food and drink exports grew by 22.5% to Singapore and 19.3% to Australia in H1 2018, representing the fastest growth markets within the largest 20 markets.
  • The top 5 UK products sold in Singapore were whisky, wine, gin, chocolate and sweet biscuits.
  • Sales of UK gin were up 115% in Australia, while soft drinks exports rose by 99%. Outside of the top 10 products, UK pasta sales in Australia were up 257% in H1 2018.
  • UK exports to China, Australia and Singapore all grew over 40% between H1 2016 and H1 2018.
  • Australia and China are two of the UK Government's priority export markets, with campaign activities running between 2016-2020.

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Top 10 products sold in Australia

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Top 5 UK products exported to Singapore

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Top 10 Asia Pacific Markets of UK Food and Drink Exports

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Food and Drink Sector Deal: Market Access

  • FDF has developed sector deal proposals as part of the Government's Industrial Strategy activity to boost specialist export support including increased access to market research, in- market specialists and the development of an online food and drink export portal.
  • For the in-market specialists, we propose targeting five priority growth markets identified by food and drink exporters in research FDF commissioned Grant Thornton to undertake. The priority markets are China, USA, India, Japan and the UAE.
  • While food and drink businesses are looking to sell to these markets, they struggle to do so due to market complexity, cost and unfamiliarity.

Comparisons of food and drink exports from different EU countries to China, the US and Japan

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China, Japan and the US

  • Comparing UK food and drink sales over the past three years with EU counterparts to these target markets highlights the huge potential for future UK export growth in food and drink.
  • UK food and drink sales (+3.3%) to Japan, for instance, lagged behind the growth of Ireland (+36.3%), Spain (+31.3%), Germany (28.3%) and Denmark (+13.7%) in between 2015 and 2017.
  • To bridge the gap in export growth to these countries, we propose putting in place food and drink sector commercial and regulatory specialists in these markets as part of a Food and Drink Sector Deal.
  • The success of having in-market specialists can be illustrated by the AHDB/Defra- funded food and drink specialist in China. Between 2015 and 2017 food and drink exports to China have risen by 94.7%.

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Last reviewed: 28 Aug 2018