UK food and drink trade soars above pre-pandemic levels

Export and imports of food and drink from non-EU countries have soared above pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to research by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The FDF’s report revealed that food and drink imports have recovered well and are over 13% higher than in 2019, while exports to major markets including the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan and the UAE exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Additionally, Canada is a key source of ingredients used by UK manufacturers, and they saw imports rise 5% while exports to the country saw particularly strong growth, up 26% compared to pre-pandemic.

Exports to India are up more than 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and they remain a large import partner – particularly for agricultural goods – accounting for £172.5 million.

Moreover, with the UK-Japan trade agreement coming into force in 2021, and others on the horizon including Australia and New Zealand, they expect even further growth in food and drink exports.

READ MORE: UK supermarkets to see mini-boost in trade ahead of Jubilee

One unknown that remains is the impact of the war in Ukraine, where we are seeing energy prices rise and supplies of certain key ingredients – including vegetable oils, cereals and white fish – being strained, all of which are vital for many of our importers.

“Trade plays a key role in boosting the UK economy, with high exports ensuring food and drink companies can thrive and imports offering shoppers in the UK a wide range of quality products at prices they can afford,” the Food and Drink Federation’s head of international trade Dominic Goudie said

“This is particularly important now, at a time of soaring costs to businesses and consumers, that the UK utilises trade as deflationary weapon.”

Food and Drink Exporters association director Nicola Thomas added: “Such strong growth highlights how with widespread economic and political instability around the world, a renewed focus on exporting is a crucial risk-mitigation strategy for UK Food and Drink companies in 2022.

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