Global sales of the UK’s food and drink have hit the £20 billion mark for the first time, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said in a press statement. New figures reveal exports grew by nearly 10 per cent in 2016, with food and drink sales to the USA – one of Britain’s biggest markets – up 12 per cent. China is quickly becoming one of our fastest growing markets, with the export value of pork skyrocketing to £43 million, an increase of over 70 per cent. Alongside these global heavy-hitters, newer markets also saw record growth last year – exports to Malaysia grew by a whopping 143 per cent, while India emerged as one of our priority markets thanks to growing demand for Scotch whisky.
The figures reveal exports show no sign of slowing following the decision to leave the EU, and come as the Environment Secretary vows to ramp up the focus on international trade.
With only one in five food producers currently exporting, a dedicated Government team has turned its attention to ensuring UK companies have the skills, knowledge and confidence to tap into new international markets and take advantage of the global demand for British food and drink.
Speaking ahead of the NFU Conference, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
“It’s great to see the global appetite for British food and drink continues to grow – thanks to our well-established reputation for taste, quality and high animal health and welfare standards. But the food and drink industry cannot do this alone – we need to give them the skills, knowledge and contacts to make the most of the opportunities ahead. I want to see more companies taking advantage of these opportunities, which is why we’re expanding our team of trade experts to support UK businesses, encouraging them to take the leap and share their quality produce with the world.”
Food and Drink Federation Director General Ian Wright CBE said: “Exports of food and drink reached record levels last year and we’re committed to building on this success going forward. We’ll continue to work closely with Government to help existing and new food and drink exporters take advantage of the growing international demand for our produce.”
France and Germany are among the priority markets identified in the UK International Action Plan for Food and Drink launched last October. Through this plan, the Government is focusing on forging stronger links with key markets including USA and Canada, China and India to generate an extra £2.9 billion in exports over the next five years.
As well as opening up new markets around the globe, the Government will continue its focus on taking advantage of European markets – with exports of salmon to France growing by 31 per cent and all food and drink exports to Germany up by 12 per cent.
Ministers are also continuing to fly the flag for British food abroad – the Environment Secretary visited China in November last year, while Food Minister George Eustice will be visiting the UAE and Kuwait next week to support nearly 100 UK firms exhibiting at Gulfood and agree market access for lamb. Through the Government’s Food is GREAT campaign Defra will continue its work to drive exports and increase global demand for the UK’s top quality food and drink.