The FDF also warned that Europe was still the UK’s most important trading partner

Food and drink exports to non-EU countries continue to grow faster than those to European partners, according to the latest report by the FDF.

It shows third-quarter growth to non-EU markets up 18.2%, outperforming EU markets, where exports were up 12.5%).

The federation said the figures were an encouraging sign that the food and drink industry was creating a platform to take advantage of opportunities from Brexit.

However, it warned Europe was still the UK’s most important trading partner.

The figures for Q3 build on record-breaking first-half results for the sector.

Exports grew to a total of £5.9bn, up 14.7% year on year.

The FDF pointed to “notably rapid growth” in the sector’s exports to the Philippines (+289.1%), Latvia (+116.1%), and Iceland (+73.2%). The surge in growth to the Philippines was led by higher demand for pork (85%), whisky (277%), cheese (1608%) and salmon (226%), while exports to Latvia more than doubled from £60m to £129m, driven by sales of whisky (131%), wine (239%), gin (86%) and fish fillets (125%).

The US remained the UK’s top non-EU market for exports of food and drink, reaching £1.6bn, up 7.7%.

“The continued growth of food and drink exports demonstrates the strength of UK production in international markets. UK food and drink is recognised throughout the world for its quality and we must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities created from leaving the EU,” said FDF director general Ian Wright.

“Exports to non-EU markets did outperform those to EU markets in the last quarter but the EU remains our number one trading partner. With fewer than one in five food and drink manufacturers exporting, it is vital that we continue to work closely with government in order to take advantage of the opportunities to sell Great British and Northern Irish food and drink abroad.”