Analysis published by the Food and Drink Federation has revealed that food and drink exports fell by 11.6% to £5.5bn in the third quarter of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
The report shows that the decrease was largely driven by the impacts of COVID-19, including the closure of hospitality and travel sectors, which has meant a loss of sales into restaurants, cafés, bars and the out-of-home sector across Europe.
In the first nine months to September 2020, food and drink exports fell to £15.2bn (-12.9%) when compared to the same period in 2019.
Exports to the majority of the top 20 markets decreased, with sales to Spain falling significantly by -33.8%. In contrast, exports to Norway experienced the most substantial increase, rising by 38.4% to £198.8m.
Ireland was the top EU destination for food and drink exports, making up almost 30% of overall sales in the EU, reflecting the close integration of UK and Irish food and drink supply chains.
When looking at UK export products, pork and breakfast cereals were the only products within the top 10 to show growth, up 12.7%, and 2.5%, respectively.
“The continued decline in exports in the third quarter of 2020 shows the immense dilemma that UK food and drink exporters are currently facing,” commented Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF. “With less than one month to go, businesses are still in the dark about what arrangements will be in place following the end of the transition period in January 2021.
“As the UK makes it way towards economic recovery, ensuring a quick return to growth will be essential to strengthen resilience in our industry. It is vital that we continue to work closely with Government and industry partners to ensure that food and drink exporters have the support they need. Today’s news of the launch of Open Borders Direct® is a most welcome development and promises to deliver urgently needed support for UK SMEs, helping them to safely navigate key crunch points when trading overseas.”