UK food and drink exports exceeds £20bn

Exports of baked goods including bread rose 11.3% year on year to £117.6m in 2016, according to new figures from the Food & Drink Federation (FDF).

Cake exports grew by 3.7% to £231.8m over the period, while savoury biscuit exports rose 1.4% to £106.5m. However, overseas sales of sweet biscuits declined by 3.6% to £371.7m.

The FDF reported that total food and drink exports have grown by 10.5% to a record figure of more than £20bn.

The US is now the second-largest export market for the UK and the largest outside Europe, with exports increasing 13% to £2.2bn in 2016.

This means the UK’s two largest export markets, Ireland and the US, together buy more than a quarter of all UK food and drink exports. Sales to non-EU markets continued to grow at a faster rate than to the EU.

Ian Wright, director general of the FDF, said British food and drink exports had hit a record high, yet there was still a massive untapped potential.

“More specialist support for new and existing exporters, with fiscal incentives and financial assistance, would get more of the country’s 6,500+ food and drink producers exporting,” he said. “Our target is to grow branded exports by a third by 2020 to more than £6bn.”

While the fall in the price of the pound has helped to boost UK export competitiveness, it has also made essential imports more expensive and the UK’s food and drink trade deficit grew 5.7% to £22.4bn.

The impact of weaker sterling on British exports is expected to be more evident in the first half of this year as companies negotiate new sales agreements with overseas buyers.

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