UK food and drink exports grew by 8.5% year-on-year to £10.2 billion in the first half of 2017, which represents the largest value on record, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
Sales of branded food and non-alcoholic drinks drove this growth, with exports up 11.3% compared to the same period in 2016. The country's top three exported products were whisky, salmon, and beer.
The UK's top three export destinations remain Ireland, France, and the US, while stronger growth was reported to EU countries (+9%) than to countries outside that market (+7.6%).
Although the fall in the price of the pound helped to boost UK export competitiveness, this currency weakness has also led to an increase in the cost of many imported ingredients and raw materials. This has resulted in the UK's food and drink trade deficit increasing by 16% to £12.4 billion in H1 2017.
“These encouraging figures show that the UK's high quality foods and high standards are sought after around the world," said UK food minister George Eustice.
"We have ambitious plans to produce and export more of our fabulous foods around the world and more businesses are trying exporting for the first time."
However, the FDF has warned that the government needs to help businesses to take advantage of opportunities post-Brexit.
"The EU remains an essential market for UK exports as well as for supplies of key ingredients and raw materials used by our industry," said Ian Wright, director general of the FDF.
"We believe there are significant opportunities to grow our sector's exports further still. The continuing weakness of sterling is a concern. However, we hope that with the determination of businesses and the assistance of Government, we can open more channels and provide a further boost to the UK's competitiveness on the world market.”
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.