Baked and cereal exports increased to £2.3bn in 2015, according to new HM Customs & Excise data.

The report, published by UK trade body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), meant exports in the sector had grown a total of 5.2% year-on-year (yoy), making it one of 2015’s big export successes.

While some European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, were responsible for much of the growth, consumers further afield also showed a growing taste for the UK’s bakery goods. Exports to Thailand increased almost threefold to £36.5m, and rose by almost £20m in Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Scottish manufacturer Nairn’s, which supplies oat-based products including oatcakes, crackers and biscuits, said its biggest export customer was the US. This was largely as a result of interest in gluten-free biscuits and crackers, and the company has set up subsidiary Nairn’s Inc to help develop local expertise and import its products.

Martyn Gray, Nairn’s marketing director, said: “We see great opportunities in the continued development of our export markets.

“The key for us is developing long-term partnerships with local importers who have detailed knowledge of their markets. We have set very challenging targets to grow the proportion of exports within our total business.”

Testament to Britain

Ben Clarke, chief executive of Burton’s Biscuits and co-chair of the UK Food & Drink Export Forum, said: “It is testament to Britain’s 400,000-strong food and drink manufacturing workforce and the strength of Britain’s reputation abroad, that branded food and drink exports continue to grow year-on-year.

“As these figures show, the global appetite for our produce, which enjoys an enviable reputation for quality, safety and innovation, remains high.”

Bakery outperformed the overall UK food and drinks export market, which fell by £0.6bn to £12.3bn in 2015. This was due to a drop in oil prices and the strength of the pound against the depreciated euro, according to the FDF. It said this had made UK exports less competitive in key Eurozone markets.