Non-EU sales could drive UK food exports to record levels

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Alcoholic beverage Cheese International trade

UK exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks could reach record levels this year thanks to strong deliveries to non EU destinations, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Full-year sales to overseas markets could break the £10bn barrier for the first time, its latest report forecasts.

Meanwhile, exports of food and non-alcoholic drink reached more than £5bn in the first half of this year; up 4.3% on the same period in 2009 driven by buoyant growth to non EU markets.

Strong growth

Exports to these markets climbed 23 per cent from £927.6m to £1,141.9m reflecting growth across all non-EU markets. Particularly strong growth was shown by North America, up 34.9% on the first half of last year, Asia up 34.6 per cent, Latin America up nearly 21 per cent and the Middle East, up 20 per cent.

Hong Kong was the fastest growing market for UK food and drink as exports rocketed by 49 per cent.

The top eight countries for UK exporters accounted for 71% in the first half of this year.

UK exports of food and non alcoholic drinks to EU markets remained flat. But exports to the Netherlands dropped by nearly 17 per cent and to Germany by more than 20 per cent.

Big falls were also noted in the volume of exports to Italy, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Dairy was the strongest performing sector with growth of more than 21 per cent to £464.3m. Within this category cheese exports climbed 15% with particularly strong growth from cheddar and blue cheeses.

Seafood exports

Fish and seafood exports performed well, growing 7.1% to £575.7m. That included a 22 per cent rise in fresh salmon export sales, which now account for 65 per cent of fresh fish exports.

The prepared foods sector also showed growth with both sauces and condiments and jams and preserves growing by 10.6 per cent to £98m and 9 per cent to £16m respectively.

Melanie Leech, FDF director general said: “I am delighted to see another strong export performance from UK food and drink manufacturers. If these levels continue throughout 2010, we should see our sixth consecutive full year of growth and break the £10bn mark for exports for the first time.”

The export statistics were compiled for FDF by Leatherhead Food Research.

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