Export crate

China was one of the top-performing export markets in 2013

Food and drink exports have recovered strongly after a flat 2012.

The total value of UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports increased 5% to £12.8bn in 2013, according to figures compiled by the Food and Drink Federation from HMRC data.

Exports to the EU returned to growth, increasing 3%, while exports to countries outside the EU increased by 11.5%.

The numbers are a significant improvement on 2012 when the value of exports stagnated – mainly because of a sharp drop in commodity exports in the wake of the poor UK grain harvest. 

In 2013, commodity exports stabilised and exports of value-added products grew strongly, by 5% to the EU and 6% to non-EU countries.

One of the biggest success stories of the year was the boom in exports to China. Sales increased by 82% to £201m making China the industry’s second biggest non-EU export market. A landmark deal to open up the Chinese market to British pork was a major factor.

FDF said the improvement in exports to the EU was also encouraging.

“In contrast to UK goods exports falling in 2013, food and drink exports are back in growth, testament to the strong demand for quality British food and drink and the growing importance of export to our industry,” said Steve Barnes, FDF’s economic and commercial services director.

“The recovery of exports to key EU markets is particularly welcome news for food and drinks manufacturers as exports to the EU28 account for 75% of total export sales.”

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