A 2% rise in exports to non-EU markets helped Britain's food and drink shippers record a 1% increase in overall overseas sales during the first half of 2001. And this, given continuing currency problems, plus the effects of foot and mouth and the legacy of BSE was, according to Food from Britain chief executive David McNair, "very creditable in difficult circumstances". Talking to The Grocer at Anuga in Cologne, McNair said overall exports were on target to top £8.9bn this year. He added: "The most encouraging feature is that sales of added value products (including spirits) are up 7% year-on-year while commodity sales are down 6%." Exports to EU markets between January and June totalled £2.482bn against £2.498bn in 2000. Shipments to non-EU countries, however, rose from £1.549.6bn last year to £1.587bn in the first half of 2001. Exports to France in the first half rose by 6% and to the Netherlands by 9%.In addition, shipments to Japan, bolstered by £14m extra whisky sales, rose by 21%. McNair said:"Adding value must be the theme for our exporters, so we need to develop a lot more processing skills in the UK." But McNair also challenged more small to medium UK suppliers to take the exports route. "Many firms have satisfied the stringent quality demands of our multiples, yet they shy away from exporting. Our big retailers make the strongest demands in the global retail world. If suppliers can satisfy them, then they are eminently qualified to take the export route." {{NEWS }}