Salmon fish

Source: Getty

Sales of whisky and salmon are already starting to rebound and are approaching pre-pandemic levels once again 

For exporters across the UK, the past two years haven’t been the easiest. But as we learn to live with Covid, there is real reason to be bullish about the opportunities that lie ahead. 

With economies starting to rebound around the world and borders reopening, trade shows have become a vital means to promote and sell British produce to the world. 

I recently attended the Gulfood trade exhibition in Dubai, the largest food and beverage trade show in the world, and was proud to see a range of British business representation there, highlighting the quality produce we have to offer. 

Our food and drink sector is a strong one, and an area we expect to fully recover as the world unlocks further. This is great news for UK firms, who exported more than £20bn worth of food and drinks worldwide in 2021. 

It’s fantastic to also see that sales of whisky and salmon are already starting to rebound and are approaching pre-pandemic levels once again – the former being the true jewel in the British beverages exporting crown, accounting for almost a quarter of all food and drink exports in the last year. 

While I was in Dubai, I couldn’t help but notice how the businesses there were from all across the UK, selling such a wide variety of produce. As part of our levelling up agenda, we’re keen to showcase that all parts of the UK are just as important to our national exporting efforts. Only by working together can we achieve the very realistic goal of hitting one trillion pounds worth of exports. 

In Scotland alone, where most of that world-renowned whisky and salmon originate, beverages are worth more than £3.5bn while Scottish salmon, most popular in France, the US and China, is worth almost £900m to the economy. Rebounding sales and international exports will strengthen that sector even further, growing the economy and creating jobs. 

Expanding into new markets with the best of British food and drink will be crucial for us as we look to grow our exports. Creating more opportunities for British farmers and businesses of all sizes, in new markets across the world, is one of the main goals of our ambitious trade policy programme as an independent trading nation. This includes new trade agreements with countries like Australia, New Zealand and India, and accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

We have some of the best farmers in the world, renowned for their high standards and exceptional levels of quality, and the government’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific in its foreign and trade policy is going to open new doors for them. Asia alone is where two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be based by 2030 and it already has high demands for lamb and beef.  

That’s why, when we unveiled our export strategy last year, we ensured there were multiple avenues of support for firms looking to either expand their current exporting efforts or get that first step on the ladder. 

Central to that are our new Export Support Services, Export Finance, Tradeshow Programme and expanded Agri-food Attaché network. These are already making huge differences to businesses right across the country – especially to those small firms who are embarking on the exporting journey for the first time by cutting red tape and connecting them through experts who can make a real difference. 

The food and agriculture sector is growing fast. The UK is already a market leader in this area, but we have to remain agile and adaptable to a changing world. I was buoyed by my trip to the Gulfood exhibition, and every single day I am presented with further examples of thriving businesses who are exporting right across the world. I look forward to working with the industry and business leaders to continue the momentum we have already built.