Against a backdrop of declining overall UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports, exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks grew by 0.9% to €5.94bn (£4.63bn) in 2015.
This is the 15th year of consecutive growth in the export of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks.
Elsa Fairbanks, director of The Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) said: “FDEA works with many of the UK’s most active exporters of food and drink and we are delighted to report that our recent members’ survey revealed that behind the export statistics there are numerous examples of optimism and business growth around the world. Buyers continue to be attracted by the quality and innovation of British products. Growth is particularly coming from products where the UK excels - iconic British brands combined with our expertise in health, wellbeing and free-from.”
In its latest food and non-alcoholic drink export statistics, the FDF said chocolate, salmon and cheese remain the top three export product categories, while exports of vegetables, both prepared and fresh, experienced the largest increase in overall growth, up €23m (£18m) in 2015 to €431.7m (£336.3m).
Non-EU markets now buy 30.8% of the UK’s total branded food and non-alcoholic drink exports. The value of exports to non-EU markets was up 6.4% on 2014 figures, with double-digit growth seen in Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia. Exports of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks to the EU fell by 1.3% in 2015.
China in top 10 trade partners
The FDF’s figures also revealed that China has now entered the UK’s list of top 10 overseas trade partners with exports to China growing by 9%.
In 2014, the UK was the EU’s number one exporter of tea to China, while exports of processed milk to China rose by €24.8m (£19.3m) (+202%) in 2015.
However, the biggest market growth for UK exports was Thailand. Exports to Thailand rose by €76.2m (£59.3m) - an impressive 122%. The sale of cereals made up €27.6m (£21.5m) of that growth. Exports to Spain grew by €59m (£46m), with high temperatures and a lack of rain in 2015 resulting in the Mediterranean country becoming more reliant on imports of UK wheat and barley.
Commenting on the figures, Angela Coleshill, Director of Competitiveness at FDF, said: “Growing exports is a top priority for Britain’s makers, bakers and bottlers, who have set an ambition to increase branded exports by a third by 2020. For our industry to meet this stretching target, we need to make sure small and medium-sized food companies in particular are helped to compete in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.”