UK food and drink exports are holding up well despite the strong pound - and last week’s Russian import ban.
In the first three months of 2014, exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 7.3% year on year to £3.2bn, according to the latest data from HMRC/ FDF. It represents an improvement on 2013, when full-year exports rose by 5%.
“Exports of value-added products continue hold up,” said Food & Drink Exporters Association director Elsa Fairbanks. “Most members are very positive about exports at the moment, although some have had to make some adjustments due to the strength of the pound.”
Last week’s Russian ban on foreign food imports is unlikely to have a major impact on food exports. Currently, less than 1% of UK food exports go to Russia and though some fresh food exporters will be affected - most notably Scottish fishermen who sold £16m of mackerel to Russia in 2013 - the ban doesn’t cover most branded and ambient manufacturers.
Brands said demand for UK products in Russia was unaffected by the crisis. James Cain, MD at Harrogate Water Brands, whose biggest export market is Russia, said: “Our contact at our Russian distributor said British products are not receiving any negativity in the marketplace in Russia, mainly because he believes Russia’s action is down to political issues with the US, rather than the UK.”