UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports grew to £5.8bn in the first half of 2011 – a rise of over 13% on the same period in 2010, as revealed by figures released by the Food and Drink Federation.
Exports to the EU increased by 12.6% to £4.4bn with the majority of markets showing growth, and three of the top five biggest EU markets showing double-digit growth – The Netherlands up 27.8%, Germany up 27.8% and Belgium up 48.5%). Most non-EU regions grew in the first half – North America up 19.1%, Asia up 18.2%, Middle East up 9.4%, Africa up 19.8% and Oceania up 12.1%.
The fastest growing markets within the list of the top 20 countries are: Poland up 83.2%, Belgium up 48.5%, Sweden up 38.2%, and Saudi Arabia up 34.9. China continues to move ever closer to the top 20 with 52.5% growth in exports in the first half following large increases in the demand for fish and seafood, meat and vegetables.
Dairy was the best performing sector in the first half of 2011, as it was for the first half in 2010, with growth of 30.5% to £607.2m, including a 24.1% increase in cheddar exports. Other sectors with notable growth during this period include: ice cream up 40.1%, fresh fish up 26.1% and coffee up 38.4%.
Melanie Leech, FDF’s director general said: “It’s extremely encouraging to see such strong growth in food and drink exports despite the challenging economic climate affecting several of our key markets, particularly in the EU. These figures indicate that we are on track to achieve our seventh consecutive year of growth and they also illustrate that there is still a huge appetite for our products abroad. As the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector, Government needs to build on our success and ensure that it supports food businesses, particularly our SMEs, to export great British food and drink products around the globe. ”