The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is calling on Government to provide greater support for UK food and drink manufacturers to compete with European rivals following the announcement of strong export growth figures in the first half of 2018.

FDF’s latest export statistics show that in the first half of 2018, UK exports of all food and drink hit £10.68bn, up 5.1% on the same period in 2017, led by growth to the EU27.

Data also reveals that exports to EU countries grew at a faster rate than those to non-EU countries.

However, UK export growth to Japan and the US is being outpaced by both Spain and Ireland, in which it calls for more support.

The call to action follows the recent publication of the Government’s Export Strategy, and the publication of FDF analysis comparing UK food and drink sales to China, the US, and Japan, with exports to those countries by other European nations.

From 2015-2017, growth of the UK’s food and drink exports to Japan (+10.4%) lagged behind nations including Ireland (+153.3%), Spain (+31.3%), Germany (+28.3%) and Denmark (+13.7%).

In comparison, UK sales to China, where certain sectors benefit from in-market specialist support, have grown by 94.7%.

FDF has submitted a detailed sector deal proposal for the food and drink industry which includes plans such as to boost specialist export support and including increasing access to market research.

The proposals were submitted in response to the publication of the Government’s Industrial Strategy white paper last year.

Ian Wright CBE, chief executive, Food and Drink Federation, said: “This analysis of UK food and drink exports in the first half of this year reveals several great success stories and a number of areas with room for growth.

“Food and drink sales are flying the flag for the UK around the world. However, some of our competitors are outshining us. It’s clear that focusing export support on specific product sectors can transform performance.

Elsa Fairbanks, director, Food & Drink Exports Association (FDEA), said: “We are greatly encouraged by such a positive performance for food and drink exports both in the EU27 and wider global markets.

“The figures confirm the need for Government to ensure that the success of our exporters is not damaged by a failure to maintain the current ease of trade with our key markets in Europe after the end of March 2019.”

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