UK food and drink exports fall in H1 for first time in five years

A new report published by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that exports of food and drink from the UK have fallen in the first half of the year for the firs time since 2015.

The data shows that when compared to the same period last year, exports had fallen by 13.8 per cent, to £9.7bn.

Exports to 17 of the UK’s top 20 export markets fell, with only sales to China (+0.3%), Canada (+6.7%) and Norway (+46.9%) seeing growth during the first half of the year.

Of the UK’s top ten export product categories, only pork saw positive value growth (+17.5%) with sales of £300m, largely driven by exports to China which purchased £132m of UK pork in H1.

KPMG, which provided analysis for the report, identified the link to the global impact of COVID-19, highlighting that differing markets are at varying stages of the COVID-19 lifecycle, with China currently experiencing a period of growth, whereas other nations are in recession.

Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade, FDF, said the fall in exports demonstrates the huge challenges the UK is facing, and spoke with concern over access to EU trade agreements as more than £1.7 billion of UK exports are at risk where continuity deals have not been agreed.

Mr Goudie said: “There remain many opportunities overseas as we navigate our way through economic recovery, strengthen our resilience as an industry, and build relationships through new future trade agreements such as with Japan – the world’s biggest net importer of food and drink.

“Looking ahead, it is vital that we continue our work with Government and industry partners to deliver sustainable export growth over the next few months and beyond the end of the transition period in January 2021 to ensure our industry has the support it needs.”

Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets at KPMG, also commented on the ongoing challenges in the export market: “Business growth – or at least resilience – remains vital despite the challenging climate. KPMG’s recent consumer insights research clearly shows that trust in brands is a key factor shaping purchasing decision. No consumer business can afford to lose sight of that.”

In support the recovery of UK exports post-COVID-19, the FDF, Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), have produced an export guide to help businesses successfully navigate the export process. The guide signposts a range of support that can help exporters that have been impacted by COVID-19, and support for businesses post EU Exit transition.

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