UK food and drink exports jumped up 5.5% in the first quarter of 2018, driven by strong growth in EU markets despite continuing uncertainty over Brexit.
Exports rose from £5bn in Q1 2017 to £5.2bn, according to new statistics from the FDF.
The largest export growth was in EU markets, which jumped up 8.2% on the previous year. Non-EU exports grew at a more modest 1.2%, with gains in Asia offset by decreasing revenues in North America, as exports fell 9% in both the US and Canada.
Breakfast cereals were the fastest-growing export product in the first quarter, with sales up 30.3% to £111.2m.
Cheese, wine, chocolate and gin exports all remained strong and recorded double-digit growth, according to the report. However, export sales in salmon and beer both dived, falling 21.8% to £146m and 12.8% to £109.1m respectively.
The quarter saw the contribution of EU sales to overall exports increase by 1.6pts from the previous year to 63.3%.
The UK’s largest export market, Ireland, continued to grow, accounting for £981m in sales, a 13.6% increase on 2017. Exports grew 12.2% in Italy, 14.1% in Poland and 9.5% in the Netherlands.
“This growth was based on robust demand for the UK’s high-quality products,” said FDF chief executive Ian Wright.
“Much of the demand comes from nearby markets. There are also significant opportunities further afield. However, these require more specialist in-market support.”