UK food and drink exports increase in 'biggest first quarter on record’

06/06/2019 - 08:31
In the first quarter of 2019, food and drinks exports increased by 10.7% year on year to £5.8 billion, nearly twice the growth rate of 2018’s first quarter (+6.3%) and the 'biggest first quarter sales value on record’.

Analysis from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) also found that first quarter 2019 food and drink export growth to non-EU markets was up by 12.2% and outpaced growth to EU markets which was up 9.9%.

Ian Wright CBE, chief executive of Food and Drink Federation, said: “The food and drink industry continues to out-perform expectations, delivering another quarter of exceptional exports growth despite the damaging uncertainty with which businesses have to contend.”

Growth of more than 20% was recorded in six of the UK’s top 20 food and drink export markets, with Japan recording the highest growth rate at 52.5%.

Exports of all of the top 10 products increased by value in the first quarter, the ‘strongest’ being salmon with growth of 40.9%.

Over the past 10 years, UK branded goods exports have increased by 110%. In Q1 2019, exports to the Netherlands (13.5%) grew the quickest out of the top five markets for branded goods.

Through the Food and Drink Sector Deal, five target markets (China, the Gulf region, the USA, Japan, and India) have been identified as offering ‘significant’ growth potential for UK food and drink.

Sales to Saudi Arabia rose by 198% from Q1 2009 to Q1 2019. Between January and March 2019, exports grew by 28.6%, moving the country into the UK’s top 20 exports markets. Saudi Arabia was also the 11th biggest buyer of UK branded goods, recording growth of 82%, driven by exports of breakfast cereals, chocolate and sweet biscuits.

The top five UK products sold to Saudi Arabia in Q1 were oats, breakfast cereals, chocolate, sweet biscuits and eggs. Three-digit growth was recorded in nine of the top 20 UK export products sold to Saudi Arabia, including sugar at +3,782%.

Wright added: “The rapid growth to Saudi Arabia, a key target market in FDF’s Food and Drink Sector Deal proposals, is just one example of this strength. With the right support in place our industry could deliver so much more. We urge Government to co-invest in our Sector Deal proposals and help us to provide the support our industry urgently needs to further enhance this growth.”

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