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Overall exports of all UK food & drink in the first half of 2017 grew to £10.2bn, up 8.5% on the same period last year.

The figures represent the the biggest first half exports value on record as the weak pound boosted international sales.

South Korea (up 77%), China (35%) and Belgium (39%) were the three export markets that saw the greatest percentage growth in value.

The rapid growth in exports to growing East Asian markets was led by South Korea, which is gaining a taste for British beer and saw overall exports surge to £156.3m.

However, latest figures from HMRC and the FDF show exports to the EU 27 grew at a faster rate.

During the period, Europe’s share of exports grew to 61.2%.

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Morning update

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has completed the $4.2bn sale of its food division to US food group McCormick & Company.

The business, which primarily comprises of the French’s, Frank’s RedHot and Cattlemen’s brands, has been sold as part of RB’s efforts to focus on its core consumer healthcare business. RB intends to use the net proceeds to reduce its debt.

The CMA has accepted proposals by Heineken to resolve concerns over its £403m proposed purchase of 1,900 pubs from Punch Taverns.

In June, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that Heineken’s proposed purchase of part of the Punch Taverns estate could reduce competition in 33 local areas across Great Britain.

Heineken has offered to sell pubs in each of the affected areas to preserve competition and ensure customers in these locations do not lose out.

The CMS stated this morning: “Before reaching a final decision, the CMA carefully assessed and consulted publicly on these proposed undertakings. The CMA is satisfied that its concerns have been addressed and has therefore decided that the merger will not be referred for an in-depth phase 2 investigation.”

On the markets this morning the FTSE 100 has fallen a further 0.7% to 7,336.7pts as the Barcelona attacks as President Trump’s ongoing problems in the US weigh on shares so far today.

Grocery fallers so far include Ocado (OCDO), down 2.3% to 286.2p, British American Tobacco (BATS), down 2.1% to 4,765.5p, Imperial Brands (IMB), down 2% to 3,177.5p, Conviviality (CVR), down 2% to 378.4p, Sainsbury’s (SBRY), down 1.7% to 238.1p and Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), down 1.5% to 2,559p.

Risers so far today include McBride (MCB), up 3.4% to 185.8p, Nichols (NCLS), up 2% to 1,852.3p and PureCircle (PURE), up 1% to 389p.

Yesterday in the City

The major sector announcement yesterday was Walmart’s second quarter results, which saw the US retail giant post like-for-like sales growth of 1.8% in the period. However, its shares slipped 1.6% to $79.70 in US trading yesterday as its sales growth was accompanied by tightening margins.

In the UK the FTSE 100 dropped 0.6% yesterday back to 7,387.9pts after what had been largely a positive week.

The Office of National Statistics said yesterday that retail sales growth was 0.3% in July compared to the previous month, but this was driven by a 1.5% rise in food sales as general merchandise sales fell.

That release saw weakness in the share price of retailers exposed to non-food, with Marks & Spencer (MKS) down 1.8% to 319.1p, and Argos-owning Sainsbury’s (SBRY) down 1.2% to 239.7p. Morrisons (MRW) also dropped 1.1% to 246.3p and Booker (BOK) was 0.9% down to 196.6p.

Other fallers included British American Tobacco (BATS), down 2% to 4,832p and Compass Group (CPG), down 1% to 1,651p.

Away from the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, fallers included Stock Spirits (STACK), down 3% to 203.8p, Real Good Food (RGD), down 2.6% to 27.8p, McColl’s (MCLS), down 2.4% to 252.8p, Majestic Wine (WINE), down 2% to 315.8p and Devro (DVO), down 1.9% to 239.8p.

The day’s few risers included Greencore (GNC), up 1.3% to 225p, Glanbia (GLB), up 1.1% to €16.81 and Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), up 0.7% to 2,593p.

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