Wales flies the flag for UK food and drink exports

09 May 2022

Wales is the only UK nation to exceed pre-COVID export levels, according to new research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The FDF’s UK Food and Drink Exports report reveals the latest breakdown of food and drink exports from across the UK during 2021.


The report shows exports in Wales were worth £558m, 13% higher than in 2019 and before the supply chain problems caused by COVID and the new UK-EU trading relationship. An important sign that the food and drink industry can play a vital role in levelling up the country.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Wales, alongside Scotland and the North East of England, has seen the strongest recovery in response to the challenges of COVID and the new UK-EU trading relationship
  • In 2021, exports were worth £558m which was largely driven by strong exports of cereals, up 173% since 2020.
  • Strong growth was seen in exports to France and Belgium, growing 42% and 163% respectively.

The share of exports to non-EU markets is increasing in Wales, as companies take advantage of the opportunities to grow exports through the UK Government’s new global trade deals. However, more can be done to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement, to help companies recover exports in the EU alongside growing market share in other global markets.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not factored into this report, and we’re yet to understand its full impact on our sector’s exports and on the global supply chains on which our sector relies for some ingredients, such as vegetable oils, cereals and white fish. 

The FDF Cymru’s chief executive Pete Robertson said:

"From cereals to coffee and ham to honey, we are proud that produce from Welsh food and drink companies is now a much sought after good around the world.

"With more opportunities to export expected in the near future, Welsh food manufacturers are leading the way in putting the UK on the map while providing vital jobs for local people at the heart of our communities."

Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

"It is excellent news our Welsh food and drink businesses have exceeded pre-covid export levels and are leading the growth across the UK nations.

"We have fantastic companies in the sector and I am proud of the resilience they have shown during a difficult couple of years."

For more information on the new report or for media opportunities, contact the FDF Communications Manager, Jack Atchinson on 07701 380755 or email 

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. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit:
  2. Given the notable impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on exports in 2021, in this report we have also compared our data to 2019, which we have used as a "benchmark" year and to check recovery.
  3. View full regional exports report
  4. View FDF’s full year trade snapshot report