Food and drink exports rose 2% on last year driven by sales to the European markets which rose 3%, according to Food From Britain.

Non-EU markets fell by 1% on the previous year. However, exports to North America and Eastern European markets remained up against 2001 levels, with exports to the US at a buoyant 12%.

Tough trading conditions in South East Asia continued to take their toll on exports to this region, which were down 3%, although one country bucking this trend was South Korea where exports jumped 47%, driven by a 35% rise in whisky.

Exports of lamb and pork rose 9% in the first half of 2002 demonstrating a successful recovery from the foot and mouth crisis, the FDF said.

Chief executive of Food From Britain David McNair said: “I am confident this upward trend will continue and estimate that figures for the full-year will reveal the value of our export sales to be over £8.7bn.

“Exports affected by foot and mouth, such as lamb, pork and dairy products, are starting to get back to pre-restriction levels.”