Strong export growth continues this quarter as exports to both EU and non-EU markets increased substantially, according to the Food and Drink Federation’s latest trade snapshot.

British food exports were 23.2% higher than in Q3 2021, with sales to the EU up nearly 18% and approaching pre-pandemic levels.

While rising prices have increased the value of UK exports, volumes have continued to grow. FDF said that this can be attributed to soaring demand for UK food and drink in certain EU member states and rapid growth further afield, including in the UAE, Singapore and India.

The FDF’s Trade Snapshot examines latest developments in UK exports and imports of food and drink in the third quarter of 2022. Key findings include:

  • Food and drink exports have seen significant growth in EU countries led by Italy (42%), Spain (52%) and the Netherlands (35%). Non-EU markets set for new or improved trade deals with the UK have also seen a significant boost in UK exports, with the UAE (41%), Singapore (20%) and South Korea (35%) all seeing strong growth compared to 2021.
  • Rising demand for quality UK food and drink in Malaysia saw exports growing by 38% and the UK’s planned accession to CPTPP would support further growth by cutting tariffs facing UK exporters.
  • The majority of British top products have seen strong growth compared to 2021, with exports of cheese up 40% by value and 20% by volume.
  • Imports from non-EU countries continue to see strong growth, up 14% compared to 2021, and over 23% compared to pre-Covid levels as businesses diversifying their sourcing of key inputs.

Exports to South Korea are showing strong growth as businesses benefit from preferential access via the continuity free trade agreement. FDF said that an updated FTA could boost UK exports even further, through simpler and more generous rules of origin and cutting the cost and burdens of trade documentation.

The report highlights the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) as a good example of streamlining movements of goods at the border and cutting the cost of trade. FDF said that the agreement, which came into place in June 2022, will help to reduce costs, complexity and delays at the border, which is particularly important for trade in perishable food and drink due to the limited shelf lives of products.

Appetite for British product

The Food and Drink Federation’s head of international trade, Dominic Goudie, said: “These figures demonstrate that the appetite for British food and drink continues to grow around the world, with exports up in both EU and non-EU countries. Defra and the Department for International Trade are taking important steps to boost support available to our food and drink exporters.

“As set out in our recent trade and investment strategy, we are keen to work in close partnership with all UK governments to take forward practical recommendations utilising all of the tools in the UK’s trade policy to drive further growth in our sector.”

Food and Drink Exporters Association Director Nicola Thomas said: “We are very heartened to see substantial growth in exports to the EU in Q3 which reflects our members’ determination to find new and workable trading and logistics solutions. We have also witnessed renewed interest from EU buyers at trade shows such as SIAL who are proactively seeking British brands for their world-leading quality and innovation. In non-EU countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, our Asian in-market partners are also seeing distributor demand for an increasingly broad range of categories, with non-alcoholic drinks, dairy, plant-based and health food topping their shopping lists.”