Global exports of UK food and drink products grew to £4.9 billion in the first quarter of 2017 – representing the largest Q1 export value on record.
That is according to new data from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which shows growth was 8.3% better in Q1 2017 than during the same period last year.
Export growth to non-EU countries (+9.4%) increased at a faster rate than those to the EU countries (+7.4%). The UK’s top three exports were whisky, salmon and chocolate.
Positive growth was reported in the top 20 markets, apart from Spain which saw a 21.6% decrease compared with 2016, FDF said.
Ahead of the general election next week, FDF has called upon the government “to recognise the strategic importance of the UK food and drink sector and the untapped export potential among UK manufacturers”.
Currently only 20% of food and drink manufacturers export and FDF wants to work in partnership with government to scale-up its provision of specialist export support in food and drink, the trade body said.
FDF director general Ian Wright said: “The growth of food and alcoholic drink exports we’ve seen in Q1 is very encouraging news for our industry,” adding that the FDF wants to work with government to take advantage of increased demand for UK products overseas and the opportunities that leaving the EU is expected to create.
“As the UK leaves the EU growth in exports is hugely important to our sector. We hope that with the determination of businesses and the assistance of the new government, we can open more channels and provide a further boost to the UK’s competitiveness on the world market.”
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