According to research released today (9th May) by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), food and drink exports across the UK are recovering from the challenges of the pandemic with manufacturers taking advantage of new trading relationships across the world.

The FDF’s UK Food and Drink Exports report reveals the latest breakdown of food and drink exports from across the UK during 2021.

The report shows that Scotland, Wales, the West Midlands and the North East of England had the strongest export growth, reflecting encouraging recovery from the supply chain problems caused by COVID and that businesses are adapting to the new UK-EU trading relationship.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Scotland accounts for the largest share of UK food and drink exports, with almost 30% of total exports. This was worth £5.7 billion, up 14.6% since 2020.
  • Wales is the only UK nation to exceed pre-Covid export levels. This was driven by strong exports of cereals, up 173% since 2020, and now worth nearly £140 million to the economy.
  • The North East saw the largest increase reaching £280 million – a 20.4% increase from 2020 – while the West Midlands grew by £810 million, a 12.6% rise from two years ago.

The share of exports to non-EU markets is increasing, with a strong growth in London, as companies take advantage of the opportunities to grow exports through the UK government’s new global trade deals. However, the FDF said that more can be done to improve the implementation of the UK-EU trade agreement, to help companies recover exports in the EU alongside growing market share in other global markets.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not factored into this report, and the FDF said it is yet to understand its full impact on the sector’s exports and on the global supply chains on which the sector relies for some ingredients, such as vegetable oils, cereals and white fish.

Post Covid recovery 

FDF chief executive Karen Betts said: “It’s very encouraging to see exports starting to recover across many parts of the UK, with companies starting to pull out of Covid-related disruption and adapting to the UK’s new trading relationships with countries around the world. Every product we export is rooted in our culture and our communities, and it’s great to see that our food and drink is sought out by consumers all over the world.

“Our report also shows the vital role that food and drink manufacturing plays in every community across the UK’s four nations, and how central our sector is to prosperity at home as well as in driving exports overseas.”