The top three growth categories were: chocolate, which rose by 19.3% to £524M; coffee, which climbed by 9.7% to reach £148M; and sauces and condiments, up by 8.9% to £227M, compared with 2011.
The top three export destinations for UK food and drink were Saudi Arabia, up by 35.2% to £118M, the United Arab Emirates, up by 24.9% to £153M and Sweden, which climbed by 16.5% to £198M on the previous year.
‘Very tough trading year’
The FDF’s economic and commercial services director, Steve Barnes, said: “Despite a very tough trading year, food and drink exports remain resilient. Last year’s poor UK harvest and the continued contraction of key EU markets have both had a significant impact on overall performance.
“Nevertheless, food and drink manufacturers have continued to make strong in-roads abroad, travelling further afield to drive sales of great British-made products. At a time when other sectors are struggling to find demand overseas, this achievement should be applauded and encouraged.”
‘Other key trends’
Other key trends were growth in exports of value-added food products – up by 3.7%. But that was counterbalanced by sharp falls in some of the UK’s largest commodity categories, such as cereals, which fell by 27.9%.
Last year’s poor UK harvest impacted heavily on the supply of grain available for export. The value of cereal exports fell by £160M in the fourth quarter alone, compared with the same period of 2011.
The statistics revealed a further contraction of 1.4% in exports to the 27 EU Member States. That was offset by continued growth to non-EU markets, up by 4.6%.
Overall, exports from other UK industry sectors fell by 4.5%.
Food exports – at a glanceGrowth categories
Chocolate: +19.3% to £524M
Sweet biscuits: +2.7% to £279M
Sauces and condiments: +8.9% to £227M
Cakes: +7.9% to £200M
Coffee: +9.7% to £148m
Saudi Arabia: +35.2% to £118M
United Arab Emirates: +24.9% to £153M
Sweden: +16.5% to £198M
Australia: +12.6% to £114M
China: +11% to £110M