UK food and drink exports pass pre-pandemic levels

31 August 2022

Exports to both EU and non-EU markets have exceeded pre-COVID levels for the first time in the first half of 2022, according to new figures released by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

This growth can be attributed to soaring levels of sales to Australia, France and India and due to increasing demand for quality British products such as chocolate.


The FDF’s Trade Snapshot examines the latest developments in the UK’s exports and imports of food and drink in the first half of 2022. Key findings from the report include:

  • Food and drink exports have seen significant growth in non-EU markets set for UK trade deals, with the UAE (30%), Canada (23.4%), Australia (16.6%) and India (81%)
  • Chocolate was the UK’s largest exported food product in the first half of 2022 worth £368m, up 12% since 2021, with sales to many non-EU markets, including Saudi Arabia and Canada, growing quickly.
  • To compensate for a 19% reduction in the volume of sunflower oil imports, we have seen strong growth in alternative products, with rapeseed oil imports up 125%

With the UK Government negotiating a preferential trade agreement with India, we hope it can deliver positive outcomes to further grow our exports. A carefully targeted trade deal that addresses India’s prohibitively high tariffs would help unlock valuable export opportunities for UK producers.

As shown by the FDF trade strategy, international trading of goods play a vital role for businesses to increase revenue to counter rising inflation, with exporters helping to drive productivity and growth across the wider economy in these turbulent economic times.

We urge the new UK Government to continue working with us to improve the performance of food and drink on the global stage. The new Food and Drink Export Council can play a key role in helping businesses take advantage of new export opportunities around the world. Growth opportunities in Europe should not be overlooked and a priority remains to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement.

The Food and Drink Federation’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. 

“Our industry continues to show resilience in the face of multiple challenges including the war in Ukraine and sharply rising costs. It is important the Government supports food and drink exporters to help us drive further growth in new markets that will support the UK’s economic recovery.”

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.

“The slight decline in exports of Scottish salmon reflects a seasonal dip in the production cycle and strong performance in the home market. Scotch Whisky remains the top performer with almost 23% growth since last year, ably supported by gin growing a massive 48%.”