Good old British grub

Posted on 17 Nov 2008 by The Manufacturer

Amid relentless talk of doom, gloom and downturn the news comes that one UK industry is flourishing – British food exports are soaring towards unprecedented levels owing to the weakening domestic currency.

Food from Britain (FFB) has revealed that food exports are on-course to hit £13 billion by the end of this year – a figure that would constitute a record return.

In the first six months of this year exports were up 15.5 per cent on 2007 at £6057.5 million.

Eastern and Central European growth countries have significantly increased orders from UK food and drink manufacturers this year, including Poland (+53 per cent), Czech Republic (+45.5 per cent) and Russia (+19.9%). In addition the strength of the dollar against the pound means orders from North America are increasing significantly too.

Chris Brockman, Head of Research and Consultancy at FFB, said: “These latest figures are incredibly encouraging in the current climate. UK producers are finally realising the potential that international markets have and that successful sales in those places can actually pay greater dividends than focussing on the domestic market.

“UK exports have gone through a sustained period of growth: two years ago it was incredibly significant that exports exceeded £10bn, as it was the first time since the BSE restrictions were put in place that the market had reached this milestone. However, since reaching £11.5bn in 2007, I predict that at the end of this year exports will have accelerated to more than £13bn, showing the largest ever increase by value in a 12 month period since records began.”

The biggest contributor to the ongoing success of British food exports is alcohol but dairy products and meat have recorded significant increases in demand this year; beef exports alone recorded a 32.3 per cent rise.

Of Britain’s established food export markets, the Netherlands registered the biggest increase in orders at 34.9 per cent. Ireland, France and the USA are the three biggest importers overall.

Brockman commended British food manufacturer’s break “from its island mentality (in) starting to see the world as a global trading village.”

And, on the same day as the CBI warned of a bleak outlook through to the beginning of next decade and beyond, Brockman asserted that this year’s success for food exports will be no short-lived feat. “The combination of sustained positive growth in existing markets, significant export interest from emerging markets and a weakening pound, means that growth rates will continue to be unprecedented, breaking all records for years to come.”