News article

2 March 2016

15th Year of growth of exports for food and soft drink products - Brands continue to shine through

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Exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks grew by 0.9% to £4.63bn in 2015, representing the 15th year of consecutive growth, against a backdrop of declining overall UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said today.

Overall exports fell by £0.6bn to £12.3bn in 2015 as a result of a drop in oil prices and the strength of the pound against the depreciated Euro, which has made UK exports less competitive in key Eurozone markets.

Chocolate, salmon and cheese remain the top three export product categories, while exports of vegetables, both prepared and fresh, experienced the largest increase in overall growth, up £18m in 2015 to £336.3m.

Non-EU markets now buy 30.8% of the UK's total branded food and non-alcoholic drink exports. The value of exports to non-EU markets was up 6.4% on 2014 figures, with double-digit growth seen in Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia. Exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU fell by 1.3% in 2015.

Exports to China grew by 9%. This is the first time that the world's most populated nation entered the UK's list of top 10 overseas trade partners. In 2014, the UK was the EU's number one exporter of tea to China, while exports of processed milk to China rose by £19.3m (+202%) in 2015.

Elsewhere, UK breakfast cereal exports to UAE grew by £8.9m (+45%) in 2015 and exports of crisps to France rose by £1.2m (+23%).

In terms of the biggest market growth, the UK saw exports to Thailand increase by £59.3m (+122%), with cereals making up £21.5m of that growth. Exports to Spain grew by £46m (+9%), with high temperatures and a lack of rain in 2015 resulting in Spain becoming more reliant on imports of UK wheat and barley.

Angela Coleshill, Director of Competitiveness at FDF, said:

“Growing exports is a top priority for Britain's makers, bakers and bottlers, who have set an ambition to increase branded exports by a third by 2020. For our industry to meet this stretching target, we need to make sure small and medium-sized food companies in particular are helped to compete in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.”

Ian Wright, Director General, FDF, will be providing evidence on 1 March 2016 to the House of Commons Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) Committee as part of their current inquiry into Exports and the role of UKTI.

Elsa Fairbanks, Director at FDEA, said:
“The Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) works with many of the UK's most active exporters of food and drink and we are delighted to report that our recent members' survey revealed that behind the export statistics there are numerous examples of optimism and business growth around the world. Buyers continue to be attracted by the quality and innovation of British products. Growth is particularly coming from products where the UK excels - iconic British brands combined with our expertise in health, wellbeing and free-from.”

Ben Clarke, Burton's Biscuits & Co-Chair of UK Food & Drink Export Forum, said:
“It is testament to Britain's 400,000 strong food and drink manufacturing workforce and the strength of Britain's reputation abroad, that branded food and drink exports continue to grow year-on-year. As these figures show, the global appetite for our produce, which enjoys an enviable reputation for quality, safety and innovation, remain high.”

Case Studies

Burton's Biscuits

Following a major strategic review in 2013 Burton's chose to focus on the development of a select number of international markets. The strategic review also included analysing the brand's core proposition, range, portfolio and pricing.

The United States was identified as a key international drive market for substantial growth for Burton's. The US cookie market is very large with annual retail sales of approximately $6bn and is growing at a relatively moderate rate of 1-2% per annum. However, what was of particular interest to Burton's was that the premium segment which represents about 7.5% of the total market and growing at an annualized rate of 7-8% and is to a certain extent underdeveloped and therefore presented a significant opportunity for Cadbury Fingers... Read the full case study


Founded in Dorset in 1984, Clipper manufactures and export a wide range of organic and Fairtrade teas and coffees – from Everyday Blends to Green Tea and infusions. Clipper products are sold in 50 countries around the world, but all its tea is still blended on site in Dorset at its Beaminster Tea Factory. 48% of Clipper's annual turnover was attributed to export in 2015.

Currently Clipper is experiencing double digit year on year growth across its top 10 export markets. The company is projecting big growth in a number of key regions, including the Middle East, South-East Asia and North America… Read the full case study

Delamere Dairy

Delamere Dairy sees export as the main contributor to its overall growth in the last two years. Products are now stocked on supermarket shelves in 20 countries including America, the Caribbean, the UAE, Singapore, and China, with export sales accounting for 11% of Delamere Dairy's total turnover in 2015. China alone accounted for 64% of Delamere Dairy's total export sales in 2015, and China and the Far East is where Delamere Dairy sees its growth coming from over the next few years… Read the full case study

Lizi's Granola

Lizi's Granola was set up to produce and sell premium quality healthy granola. Export is very important to its business. In the last year, Lizi's Granola has entered new markets and sees them growing significantly. The company anticipates exports will grow in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as consumers are looking to eat healthier cereals and snacks. Lizi's Granola exhibited at Gulf Foods and Anuga in 2015, which helped the company's exports to increase 60% in the last year.

Lizi's Granola is now exported to every continent except Australasia, which is a huge achievement… Read the full case study

Mr. Kipling

Mr Kipling has been making exceedingly good cakes since 1967, and in the UK, almost 60% of UK households indulge in the company's tasty treats every year.

But the love for the brand doesn't stop on our shores, as for years, Mr Kipling has also been a family favourite with Australians during the Christmas season. Capitalising on the success of the Christmas range and Mr Kipling brand loyalty, in 2015, Premier Foods worked directly with two of Australian's leading retailers to extend the brand into the All Year Round cake category with iconic products such as Angel slices and Cherry Bakewells… Read the full case study


Nairn's has been baking oat-based products including oatcakes, crackers, biscuits and oat-based snacks in Scotland since 1888. In 2015, exports accounted for 8% of the business' annual turnover. Exports are a fundamental part of Nairn's strategic plans for growth.

Nairn's most successful export products are crackers, oatcakes, biscuits and its gluten free range. Currently exporting to 31 countries across the globe, including USA, Canada, South Africa, Cyprus, and New Zealand, the company is continuing to develop existing markets and entering new ones. The Middle East is a growing area for Nairn's as is Czech Republic and Western Europe... Read the full case study

Quaker Oats

Over the last ten years there has been a great deal of investment in the Cupar facility and this has supported a doubling of volumes exported over this period. Today, the Mill in Fife supplies products to over 60 countries around the world with over half of total tonnage going to exports in 2015.

This includes many countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East mainly with traditional oats in tins and aluminium bags. Our sales of Quaker products to UAE increased 25% year-on-year in 2015... Read the full case study

United Biscuits

United Biscuits (UB) is a leading international manufacturer of biscuits, snacks and cakes, that are enjoyed around the world, including McVitie's, Carr's and Jacob's. International markets are of vital importance to UB, whose brands are sold in over 130 countries, accounting for 20% of company revenue in 2015, forecast to reach 30% in 2017.

UB International (UBI) is a multi-cultural team of 1,200 people throughout the world with a head office in London. It has transformed from a trading business to become UB's growth engine, whose sights are set on four key developing markets (China, India, Middle East and Nigeria)... Read the full case study


Wrigley's UK factory and head office are based in Plymouth. 35% of the output from Wrigley Plymouth is exported to Europe and further afield. Some of the key products that are produced in the UK for export include the sugarfree chewing gums, Extra® and Airwaves® and Hubba Bubba® bubble gum, all in a variety of pack formats.

Wrigley export these iconic brands and well-loved products to twenty three markets around the world. They travel as far as South Africa and Australia via road and ocean freight... Read the full case study

Notes for editors:

  1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector.
  2. Branded goods refer to manufactured products that have had their value increased through production.
  3. The FDF is calling on food and drink exporters to enter the Exporter of the Year category at the FDF Awards 2016. The awards showcase industry excellence in the fields of innovation, competitiveness, health and sustainability. To find out more visit: FDF Awards web page.

More Information

Contact Ted Woodward, Corporate Affairs Division, at:, or +44 (0) 20 7420 7140.

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