British exports to Central and Eastern Europe have grown 119% over the past five years, according to government trade information figures – about twice the growth rate of exports to other markets. Of a total of about £400m worth of food and non-alcoholic drink exports to the region, there were particularly big increases in the value of those exported to Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Bulgaria, according to the UKTI.
“Demand for products such as whiskey, salmon and chocolate are on the up but there's still scope for more,” said minister for food at DEFRA David Heath.
“We must do all we can to support UK food and drink companies so they can take full advantage of these opportunities. We have a range of excellent information and advice for businesses including the new 'Open to Export' on-line service, but it's equally important that the industry is able to tell us where Government support can be of most use.”
FDF has a target for growing the UK food industry by 20% by 2020, and exports to both existing and emerging markets will be crucial to achieving this goal, said FDF director general Melanie Leech.
“Food and drink manufacturing is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK and is growing at a faster rate than most other sectors,” she said. “The UK industry already has strong export links with Europe but now is the time for businesses who do not currently export to grasp the opportunities available and extend their reach further to new and emerging markets like Central and Eastern Europe. Exports are vital to the future growth of our industry.”