Total UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports grew 5% to £12.8bn in 2013, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Exports to China nearly doubled and increased by a whopping 82%, moving it to become the second-largest non-EU market.

Ireland and France remain the UK’s biggest food and drink export markets by both overall value and value gained in 2013, rising by 7% to £3.2bn and 10% to £1.47bn respectively.

Steve Barnes, economic and commercial services director, said the recovery of exports to key EU markets was welcome news, as exports to the EU 28 account for 75% of total export sales.

Barnes said: “In contrast to UK goods exports falling in 2013, food and drink exports are back in growth, testament to the strong demand for quality British food and drink and the growing importance of exports to our industry.”

The top-performing product was chocolate, rising 9% to £571m, with sweet biscuits up 11% to £311m. Tea, coffee and cocoa were also up 14% to £1.07bn.

Australia saw an 18% rise in value gains to £134m, due to increases in chocolate (49%), sweet biscuits (11%), sugar confectionery (43% and coffee (269%) adding £14m. For Saudi Arabia, up 12% to £132m, the largest value gains came from the export of eggs (£6m) and sweet biscuits (£3m).