The market development consultants said the market fell short of that figure last year due to an overall decline of 1.8% in the year to December 31. However, it said a strong upturn at the end of the year seemed likely to continue through 2005.
The ongoing recovery of meat and dairy exports is boosting growth. Meat sales rose by 9% to £670m last year, driven by strong double-digit gains in poultry and pork. Beef sales also continued to rise, by 1.5%. Growth is expected to be dramatic once the ban on OTM beef exports is lifted at the end of this year.
FFB said Ireland was the top importer of UK products, with France second. Emerging markets such as Dubai, China and Russia also showed strong gains. However, sales to Germany and the Netherlands fell, with price wars hitting branded products. And non-EU markets saw sales decline, driven by losses in the North America and Asia Oceania regions. Sales to the US, Italy, Greece and Japan also dropped.
David McNair, FFB chief executive, said: “Retailers such as Tesco, Carrefour and Wal-Mart are offering a global proposition, existing markets continue to grow, while new markets open up. Companies cannot afford to remain UK-centric.”