12 December 2022, 09:46 AM
  • Despite a difficult first couple of years of Brexit, exports of food and drink rose in 2022
UK food and drink exports on the rise as Brexit chaos settles

According to data from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Q3 of 2022 saw strong export growth, with exports 23.2% higher than in Q3 2021, as exports to both EU and non-EU markets increased substantially. 

This can be attributed to soaring demand for UK food and drink in certain EU countries such as Italy (42%), Spain (52%) and the Netherlands (35%) and rapid growth across the globe, including in the UAE, Singapore and India, driven by increasing demand for quality British products such as gin and cheese.

Post-Brexit success
Despite a challenging transition, it appears that the red tape and increased costs are finally dying down to allow more seamless exports. This is good news for fine food and drink producers, as the desire to share great British produce with the world continues to grow. 

Dominic Goudie, The Food and Drink Federation’s head of international trade, commented, “These figures demonstrate that the appetite for British food and drink continues to grow around the world, with exports up in both EU and non-EU countries. 

Defra and the Department for International Trade are taking important steps to boost support available to our food and drink exporters.”

In fact, even imports from non-EU countries continue to see strong growth, up 14% compared to 2021, and over 23% compared to pre covid levels as businesses diversify their sourcing of key inputs.

Nicola Thomas, director at the Food & Drink Exporters Association, added, “We are very heartened to see substantial growth in exports to the EU in Q3 which reflects our members’ determination to find new and workable trading and logistics solutions. 

“We have also witnessed renewed interest from EU buyers at trade shows such as SIAL who are proactively seeking British brands for their world-leading quality and innovation. In non-EU countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, our Asian in-market partners are also seeing distributor demand for an increasingly broad range of categories, with non-alcoholic drinks, dairy, plant-based and health food topping their shopping lists.”

A saving grace for dairy
With British dairy farmers currently struggling in the midst of rising costs, the increased value of cheese exports is a saving grace. In fact, compared to 2021, exports of cheese are up 40% by value and 20% by volume. 

Speaking at a recent National Farmers Union (NFU) summit, Kemi Badenoch MP, the current trade secretary, said, “British agriculture, especially our dairy producers, are vital to the UK economy. Last year dairy exporters sold £1.4bn of goods to markets around the world and the work we are doing to strike new trade deals and reduce market access barriers will only see that figure rise further.

“The UK’s reputation is one of high standards, environmental protections and quality goods and I am determined to ensure we remain world leaders in the dairy market. When more farmers trade and export, it means more jobs, higher wages and a stronger economy.”

Michael Oakes, dairy board chair at the NFU, added, “Over the past few years we have developed a fantastic reputation around the world for quality and already export nearly £2bn worth of dairy products to more than 135 countries across Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.

“If the UK dairy sector wants to be a major player in global trade, find new emerging markets, and add value to the sector, now is the time to drive our exports and capitalise on the tremendous global support that already exists for great British dairy products.”

When it comes to artisan cheese, France has emerged as a key market. In 2014, Neal’s Yard Dairy exported €500,000 of British cheese to France; by 2021, the figure had jumped to €1 million, with France becoming its second-largest market after the United States.

With so many talented British cheesemakers finally gaining recognition, the future looks bright for the fine food and drink industry.