UK food and drink manufacturers to benefit from Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand

30 May 2023

The UK food and drink industry is poised to reap substantial benefits from new free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia and New Zealand that are due to enter into force on 31 May. 


This comes at a time when new research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has found that in the early part of the year there was a drop in exports and imports between the countries.

The FDF Trade Snapshot Q1 2023 has revealed a sharp decline in UK exports to Australia (13%) and New Zealand (11.5%), largely attributable to a fall in alcoholic beverage sales, compared to the same period in the previous year. However, this is seen as a temporary setback with expectations that the removal of tariffs will pave the way for future growth.

The FDF’s head of international trade Dominic Goudie said:

"While we have seen a drop in exports to Australia and New Zealand in Q1 2023, we firmly believe the removal of tariffs through the new free trade agreements will unlock exciting opportunities for UK food and drink manufacturers.

“Government is taking important steps to help businesses utilise new export opportunities with the welcome announcement of additional specialist trade attachés. But more could be done to maximise opportunities for growth for domestic manufacturers, by dropping costly plans for UK-wide ‘not for EU’ product labelling and providing a dedicated trade portal to improve access to vital information.

UK Food and Drink Exporters Association director Nicola Thomas said:

“Whilst markets such as New Zealand and Australia have a strong affinity with UK products, these are highly competitive countries with a strong home grown supplier base. 

“We welcome lower tariffs, but UK companies still need to research and evaluate each country in relation to their own product category and brand aspirations. As with all markets, companies must create a robust market entry and development plan to succeed.”

Previous examples of FTA’s delivering improved benefits can be seen with the enhanced UK-Japan trade agreement, which came into force in January 2021. Our sector’s exports are up 58% in Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2021 as our exporters help meet rising Japanese demand for quality British food and drink.

The overall picture for the UK food and drink industry is one of resilience and dynamism.

Total UK exports grew by 10%, reaching an impressive £5.9 billion during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year. This growth was primarily driven by double-digit growth within the European Union. However, rising prices have seen export volumes fall for many of our top products and the same can be seen in our imports.

You can read our full Q1 2023 Trade Snapshot here.