Food and farming contributes £120 billion to the UK economy annually and supports 4.3 million jobs right across the country. One of its success stories is exports, with UK agri-food and drink sales overseas reaching nearly £24 billion in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted growth this year due to the closure of hospitality and travel sectors, which has meant a loss of sales into restaurants, cafés, bars and the out-of-home sector across the world.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, food and drink exports was one of the great success stories for the UK and was a great way to highlight the strength of our industry over the last few years. Research shows that exporting businesses generate higher revenues, are more profitable and productive, and contribute more to the economy. At FDF, we highlight importance of exporting as well as the export success of our members to the media, stakeholders and government through our regular export statistical reports and member case studies. Some of our members' success stories can be found below.

FDF also works with Government and other stakeholders to improve the provision of specialist support to help more food and drink manufacturers to export. As part of this, FDF has developed proposals to transform the sector's growth potential through a new government-industry partnership on the delivery of specialist export support.

Below includes useful information on:

  • Key steps to export success and where to go to find support;
  • Case studies showcasing businesses across the UK that are successfully making in-roads abroad;
  • Our regular export snapshots which highlight top markets and products and can help members with their export plans as well as identifying target markets;
  • The latest regional export statistics highlighting growth across the UK.



EU customs and trade support

We have been working to put in place a range of solutions that will help members moving goods into and out of the EU. This includes a programme of training courses, free expert guidance, customs support and staffing assistance.


Trade statistics

The FDF publishes quarterly reports of industry trade statistics, detailing the latest UK food and drink export and import figures. As the sector undergoes significant changes, the FDF will show the changing dynamics of the industry’s trade flows.

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Regional analysis

To highlight the geographical spread of the industry, the FDF produces national regional analysis of key economic indicators including: the sector’s economic contribution in each area, how many people we employ, average wages and trade statistics.

All resources

Updates & milestones

FDF Exporter of the Year Award – Entries are now open!

Is your company entering new markets, creating targeted products or growing sales in established markets?

Enter the FDF Awards – Exporter of the Year category before 28 February 2022, for your chance to win. It’s completely free to enter!

View the full criteria

Find out more about the FDF Awards

FDF Exporter of the Year Award


This award category is for companies that are entering new markets, creating targeted products or growing sales in established markets. It is open to manufacturers but also to intermediary companies. The judges will look at achievement and ambition relative to the size of the company, not just the largest sales figures!

Enter in the FDF Awards – Exporter of the Year category before 28 February 2021, for your chance to win. It’s completely free to enter!

View the full criteria and enter now

Find our more about the FDF Awards

Five steps to exports success


Food and drink exports are a UK success story. Reaching nearly £24 billion in 2019, they have grown every year since 2015. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our industry and UK food and drink exports fell by 13% in the first nine months of 2020. As we reach the end of the EU Exit transition period, exporters will face further challenges.

To support businesses with this double challenge, the FDF, Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) have today produced an export guide.

Five steps to exports success

This 5-step guide helps businesses successfully navigate the export process and signposts a range of support they can access. In the guide, key terms are explained, questions answered and support offered. It also includes an overview of useful contacts and links to webinars, events as well as trade fairs that can help businesses grow their exports.


UK food and drink sees a significant and persistent drop in exports

UK exports of food and drink are down £2.7bn (-15.9%) in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is largely due to a drop in sales to the EU of £2.4bn (-23.7%) resulting from new barriers to trade with the EU and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Food and drink exports recovering in non-EU markets

Sales of UK food and drink to non-EU countries were up 13%, accounting for 46.6% (£4.3bn) of all UK food and drink exports in the first half of 2021, driven by a return to growth in China, Singapore, Australia, Japan and the Gulf region. This increase means non-EU exports are now almost back to pre-Covid levels.

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New International Trade resource offers 3 months’ free access

FDF members can enjoy 3 months free access to the OpenBorders.Direct site an innovative new platform, packed full of content on all aspects of international trade, helping you make the most of the opportunities and highlighting the issues faced from cash flow to ICC Incoterms® 2020.

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Non-EU food and drink exports exceeds EU share following large drop in sales

Exports of food and drink to non-EU markets topped sales to the EU in the first quarter of 2021, with EU sales falling 47% compared with Q1 2020, as a result of the on-going impacts of Covid-19 and changes in the UK’s trading relationships.

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All news

Free support for FDF members via Open Borders Direct

We are pleased to partner with Open Borders Direct®, to provide FDF members with free 3-month Helpline access for any member who is struggling to make head or tails of the paperwork or processes in importing or exporting. The team at Open Borders Direct® are committed to finding an answer for you; all you have to do is sign up using the Trade Association dropdown to take advantage of your three months free subscription – no credit card details are needed to access this offer.

Note: All business relationships are between Open Borders Direct® and the client, not FDF. FDF receives a small commission from Open Borders Direct® for any FDF member signing up to use Open Borders Direct®

Find out more

Related case studies

Exports has been one of the UK food and drink industry's major success stories. These case studies showcase businesses across the UK that are successfully making in-roads abroad.

Wyke Farms Ltd

Case Study

Exporter of the Year 2020

The Wyke Farms brand is one of the oldest and most widely distributed cheddar brands in the UK.

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Case Study

Joe & Seph's

Joe & Seph's are a family business from London with a mission to produce the best-tasting popcorn in the world, and were awarded FDF Exporter of the Year in 2016.

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Case Study

Loch Duart Salmon

Loch Duart farms in the Hebrides and Sutherland in a sustainable manner making no compromise in our aim to produce extraordinary tasting Scottish salmon, which is sold to leading hotels, restaurants and retailers in the UK and worldwide.

All exports case studies

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