The UK’s Food & Drink Federation (FDF) has announced that exports of food and drink increased by 10.7% to £5.8bn for Quarter 1 (Q1) 2019 compared to the same period last year, almost twice the growth rate of exports in Q1 2018 (+6.3%) and the biggest first quarter sales value on record.
Exports of all of the top 10 products increased by value in Q1 2019, led by Whisky, as the table below shows.
Export growth to non-EU markets (+12.2%) outpaced growth to EU markets (+9.9%). This was also the case for sales of branded goods.
Growth of more than 20% was recorded in six of the UK’s top 20 export markets: the Netherlands, China, Sweden, Japan, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.
“The food and drink industry continues to outperform expectations, delivering another quarter of exceptional exports growth despite the damaging uncertainty with which businesses have to contend.” Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of FDF
According to the FDF, feedback received from businesses at recent trade fairs shows that key buyers in some of the top 20 markets are no longer willing to buy from UK exporters due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty. This could have a significant impact on food and drink export figures later in 2019.
In January 2018, the Food and Drink Sector Council was established as a formal industry partnership with Government created to improve the productivity and sustainability of the UK food and drink industry. Exports are among the Council’s key priority areas, with working groups set up to drive activities and policy recommendations in these areas.
The Food and Drink Sector Council Exports Working Group, led by Graham Hutcheon, Managing Director, Group Operations, Edrington (pictured above), aims to drive a step-change in food and drink exports through a range of activities. This includes supporting the successful launch of a Food and Drink Sector Deal.