Sales to non-EU countries have grown by 8% compared to 2020 due to strong recovery in whisky (+18.7%) and salmon (+20.6%) exports, the Food and Drink Federation’s latest Trade Snapshot has revealed.
Although there has been a drop of trade, the food sector membership body revealed UK food and drink manufacturers have sought for trading opportunities elsewhere.
Exports to East Asia have experienced faster recovery with exports to China worth £800 million and close to overtaking imports. On top of this, the new UK-Japan trade agreement has aided export growth in the region in 2021.
Despite geopolitical controversy, Israel remains an important trade partner for UK food and drink companies, with imports growing by 22% and exports growing by 26%.
In addition to this, the UK’s food sector saw exports increase by 62% in Central and South America since 2020 – which exceeds pre-pandemic levels of trade.
“These figures are encouraging, with rises in UK food and drink exports across the Americas and in Asia. Less good was our export performance in established markets in Europe and Australasia,” FDF CEO Karen Betts said
“But we have a good base to build on, and the FDF is committed to working closely with the UK government and devolved administrations to ensure that their weight is fully behind further building exports in great British food and drink.
However, a key priority for the food sector is to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement. Sales to the EU fell by 12% compared to 2020 as UK business paused movement and used stockpiled goods to supply customers through the first quarter of 2021.
The FDF remains uncertain over the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food exports. Currently, energy prices have soared asa consequence of such impacting the supplies of vegetable oils, cereals and white fish.
Betts added: “The war in Ukraine is likely, however, to negatively impact our businesses’ trading ambitions, at least in the near term, with supply chains and trade routes disrupted.
“That underscores the need for business and government to work closely together, ensuring that companies can develop new markets and seize new opportunities in a difficult economic environment, to underpin their resilience.”