Tale of two export markets: cake booms as bread falls

Exports of UK-produced cakes have soared almost 20% year on year in the past quarter – but bread exports have slumped 15%.

The 19.2% growth in overseas sales of cakes has outpaced an overall 14.7% increase in UK food and drink exports in the third quarter of 2017, according to the latest its quarterly Exports Snapshot published by The Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Among the strongest markets for UK cakes in the quarter were France, where exports surged by 118% to £5.5m, and Australia, the UK’s second largest market for cake.

Earlier this month, Premier Foods reported that its Mr Kipling and Cadbury cakes were continuing to perform well in Australia, and had recently been extended into New Zealand. The business has also been running a targeted social media marketing campaign in Australia for Mr Kipling.

Year to date, cake exports have increased 14% year on year to £188.2m, with growth to markets outside the EU (+20%) outpacing export growth to EU countries (+12%).

In contrast, bread exports have declined 1.8% year on year in 2017 to £86.5m, with sales falling in seven of the top ten markets for bread.

UK Bread & Cake exports (Jan-Sep 2017)

In the past quarter, bread exports have slumped 14.6% to £26.6m as sales to the EU – which accounts for about 90% of UK bread exports – fell by 16.4%.

The Federation of Bakers suggest the sharp decline in the past quarter was a result of a particularly strong performance in Q3 2016, when exports were £31.2m compared to a £25.8m the previous year.

“I think what we may be seeing here is a rebalancing of the market,” said FOB director Gordon Polson.

Looking at the total UK food and drink market, exports were up 11% in the year to date to £16.1bn. The top three fastest-growing export products are liquid milk and cream, butter and spreads, and vegetable oils.

Ireland, France and the US remained the top three destinations for UK food and drink, and growth was reported in all top 20 markets during the period, apart from Spain, which saw a 7.1% decrease due to a 78% slump in sales of barley and wheat.

“The continued growth of food and drink exports demonstrates the strength of UK production in international markets,” said FDF director general Ian Wright. “UK food and drink is recognised throughout the world for its quality and we must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities created from leaving the EU.

“Exports to non-EU markets did outperform those to EU markets in the last quarter but the EU remains our number one trading partner. With fewer than one in five food and drink manufacturers exporting, it is vital that we continue to work closely with government in order to take advantage of the opportunities to sell Great British and Northern Irish food and drink abroad.”

Food Export Conference, February 8 Ardencote Manor, Warwickshire

Whether you are looking for your first export opportunities or want to grow your existing overseas sales, the Food Export Conference should be a date in your diary. Organised by British Baker in partnership with sister titles Food Manufacture and Meat Trades Journal, the event has been designed to arm delegates with advice about best practice from trade experts and British businesses enjoying success overseas. The one-day event will be held at Ardencote Manor, Warwickshire, on Thursday, 8 February 2018. Click here for further information.

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