Food and drink exports to EU down 41% in February

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has produced its second Food and Drink Trade snapshot this year, looking at trade between the UK and EU for the month of February 2021, illustrating the continued impact of Brexit.

Global exports were down more than a fifth in February 2021, driven largely by a fall in sales to the EU of 40.9% compared to the same month in 2020.

The dairy and meat sectors were worst impacted, with sales of milk and cream to the EU falling 96%, and chicken and beef down by more than three quarters.

Imports fell from each of the UK’s top six suppliers in February 2021, with these countries supplying around half of the UK’s imported food and drink. The fall in imports in February 2021 was driven by a drop of 17% from the EU compared to February 2020, although imports from the rest of the world increased by nearly 6%.

Imports of pork, chicken and beef were down more than 30% compared to February 2020, and fruit and vegetables were down by 21% and 13% respectively.

Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF, said: “While UK food and drink exports to the EU have improved from a 76% fall in January, they are still down nearly 41% in February 2021. Exports to our biggest market, Ireland, have also dropped more than two thirds. UK businesses continue to struggle with inconsistent and incorrect demands at EU borders, and small businesses have been hardest hit due to the collapse of groupage distribution into the EU.

“New EU import requirements for composite products entered into force this week, adding even greater complexity, cost and uncertainty for UK exporters. It is essential that the EU-UK Partnership Council and its Trade Specialised Committees are convened to urgently address problems with the implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to ensure small businesses are not shut out of trade by this trade deal.”

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