UK exports of food and non-alcoholic drink grew to more than £5bn in the first half of 2010, a rise of 4.3% on the same period in 2009.
Full-year sales to overseas markets are forecast to break the £10bn barrier for the first time, according to figures released today by the Food and Drink Federation.
This first half growth has been characterized by an almost entirely flat EU export market but buoyant growth to non EU markets, which increased from £927.6m to £1,141.9m – a 23.1% change. All non-EU markets showed growth, but particularly strong markets included North America, up 34.9%, Asia up 34.6%, Latin America up 20.8% and the Middle East, up 20.0%. The fastest growing export market for UK food and drink is Hong Kong, which was up 49.3%.
Dairy proved to be the strongest individual sector, showing growth of 21.3% to £464.3m, driven by a 15.2% growth in cheese exports, especially cheddar and blue cheeses. This in direct contrast with 2009, when dairy was the worst performing sector. Fish and seafood also performed well, growing 7.1% to £575.7m, including a 22.3% rise in fresh salmon export sales, which now account for 65% of fresh fish exports. Within the prepared foods sector, both sauces & condiments and jams & preserves performed well, growing by 10.6% to £98m and 9% to £16m respectively.
“I am delighted to see another strong export performance from UK food and drink manufacturers’ said Melanie Leech, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation. “If these levels continue throughout 2010, we should see our sixth consecutive full year of growth and break the £10billion mark for exports for the first time.
“These figures support the findings of the research project we have recently undertaken with the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University, which has clearly demonstrated that we are a vibrant and successful sector. We directly employ 440,000 people; generate £73bn of turnover and value added of £21.6bn; and account for 15% of total manufacturing output. These export figures are simply further proof of our sector’s importance to the UK economy.”