A new report advises food and drink companies to target the significant number of British expatriates and tourists.

The largest numbers of expatriates live in Spain and France, with around 800,000 living in Spain and up to 1 million in France, according to market development consultancy Food from Britain (FFB).

Outside of Europe, the Gulf States are another key market, hosting more than 180,000 British people, 72 % of whom live in the United Arab Emirates.

The number of visits abroad by UK residents increased by more than 50% between 1996 and 2005, with more than 66 million overseas trips taken last year. A third of the visits were to France and Spain.

"The significant size of British expatriate populations and the increasing number of people from the UK travelling overseas undoubtedly provides opportunities for British exporting companies," said Chris Brockman, head of research and consultancy at FFB. "They can provide a loyal customer base, which companies can use as a perfect starting point for establishing themselves in a new country."

In Spain, breakfast cereal exports accounted for £27m in 2005. The South East Asian markets of Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, which account for £269.7m of UK food and drink exports, have an ex-pat population of over 50,000.

"This report offers British exporting companies an invaluable insight into which overseas markets may be more receptive to their products," added Brockman.