Food & bev exports grow in first half of 2016

Posted on 28 Aug 2016 by Jonny Williamson

The latest export figures from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) have revealed that the value of branded food and non-alcoholic drink exports rose to £2.4bn in the first half of 2016, an increase of £141.2m (+6.2%) when compared to the same period in 2015.

According to the FDF, branded exports to non-European Union (EU) nations rose by £93.7m (+14%) on first half figures from 2015, while exports to the EU also increased by £47.5m (+2.9%).

Exports to non-EU nations now represent 31.4% of all branded exports, up 2.2% on first half of 2015.

Total exports of food and non-alcoholic drink grew by £528.3m (+8.7%) to £6.6bn, between first half of 2015 and 2016, following a fall in overall exports in 2015, the first in 10 years.

FDF has set an ambition to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third to achieve a total value of £6bn by 2020.

The Exports – Five Steps to Food and Drink Exporting Success guide, developed by FDF and the Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA), was recently launched as part of an enhanced partnership aiming to help more of Britain’s 6,500 manufacturers to export.

A weaker pound at the start of 2016 meant UK exports were competitive in the first half of the year. With the price of the pound falling further since the end of June 2016, following the EU referendum result, the FDF expects there to be a further rise in exports before the end of 2016.

The three export markets which saw the greatest value growth from 2015 to 2016 were Malaysia, up £46.9m (+268.5%); China, up £24.1m (+100.9%); and the US, up £21.1m (+31.6%).

Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands made up the top three export destinations for branded UK food and non-alcoholic drink, with exports to the value of £598m (+1.2%), £228.6m (+7.6%) and £196.6m (-1%) respectively.

The top three product categories were chocolate, salmon and wheat, with exports of vegetables, both prepared and fresh, experiencing the largest value growth, up £27.7m (+17.9%) compared with the first half of 2015.

Director general of FDF, Ian Wright CBE commented: “Following a weaker performance in 2015, the growth of value added exports we’ve seen in H1 is excellent news for our industry and a positive step toward achieving FDF’s export ambition.

“It’s also very pleasing to see non-EU exports performing beyond expectations, with UK firms taking advantage of increased competitiveness.

“We eagerly await the launch of DEFRA’s export plan to see how government intends on supporting our industry overseas in a time of prospective economic uncertainty.”

Case Studies

Icelandic Seachill

The Saucy Fish Co. has seen the most significant growth to date in the US market, since their launch six years ago, with their most recent listings. Its products are now available in more than 800 Publix stores across the South East of the country, as well as stockists in 150 Whole Foods Market stores.

Since launching in Publix in March, these natively designed lines have seen a strong growth curve in sales and now reflect more than 20% of export.


Nairn’s has been baking oat-based products including oatcakes, crackers, biscuits, oat-based snacks and gluten free products in Scotland since 1896. Exports account for approximately 10% of turnover and the business has seen this increase around 20% year-on-year, in line with its strategic export ambitions.


Seabrook crisps is a £30m turnover SME that has been producing crisps for the UK market for more than 70 years. In October 2015, the decision was taken by the board to start to build an export business, driven by increasing consumer demand for premium crisps in international markets and investment in the factory to increase flexibility and capacity to deliver an International range.

Seabrook crisps can now be found in Spain, Tenerife, Sweden, Malta, Kuala Lumpa and the UAE. Within the next month there are expected to be further launches with major retailers in France, Hong Kong, mainland China and New Zealand.